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Posted under: News

White Missouri Family Receives Letter Stating BLM Yard Sign Is Bringing Down Neighborhood Property Value

Courtney Schaefer said the letter also implied that the sign was brought down property taxes and deterred people's interest in the neighborhood.

Police are investigating a letter a woman in Webster Groves, Missouri, received criticizing her family’s decision to post a “Black Lives Matter” sign in their yard in a predominantly white neighborhood.

Courtney Schaefer told KSDK she received the note in the mail last month after similar signage went missing around the neighborhood. Schaefer said the letter was addressed to “Resident” and included her address, which was written upside down.

“We, your neighbors, appreciate that you have strong political and social viewpoints and wish to communicate to others via your yard sign," Schaefer said the note read.


The letter then went on to chide the Schaefer family for making their home into “billboards for [their] opinions,” and asked that they be mindful of their neighbors who oppose their views.

“Thank you in advance for caring enough about the people you live side-by-side, especially with different viewpoints, to remove your sign," the letter read. "Signed, your neighbors."

After realizing none of her neighbors received a similar note, Schaefer believes the note might have been in antagonism toward the Black community.

“It’s a campaign of hate," she said. "They are trying to instill uncertainty which leads to fear. I think what that letter says is that Black people wouldn’t be welcome here, and I don’t think that’s true.”

The letter also implied the signs brought down property taxes and lowered interest in the neighborhood.

Susan Schiff, who's been working in real estate in Webster Groves for 35 years, said she hasn’t seen any trends or evidence that back up the letter’s claim.

"The reality is prices are up," she told KSDK. "The number of sales are up year-to-date from last year to this year. If anything, I'm seeing a bump."

Schiff said home buyers are particularly interested in areas with kind neighbors who treat each other well.

"Racism, there's no room for that. No place for that. I think whoever wrote this letter is sadly misinformed,” she said.

More than 90% of Webster Groves' population is white, according to Census data. About 5.7% of the town’s population is Black.

As a result of other racial tension reported in the city, officials have committed to a number of partnerships and initiatives meant to improve social equity for the Black community.

On July 13, the Webster Groves School District Board voted to approve a position for a director of diversity, equity and inclusion, The Webster-Kirkwood Times reports. Among many community-centered functions, the position will “serve as the district liaison to students, staff, families and district stakeholders on matters related to diversity, equity and inclusion."

"We believe that each of us in the school system — all 900 staff members — is responsible for being champions for diversity, but we would benefit by having someone whose role is exclusively for championing it," School District Superintendent John Simpson said.


On Sept. 11, the district announced that Dr. Shane Y. Williamson would fill the role effective Oct. 5. According to the announcement, Dr. Williamson currently acts as the dean of students and chief diversity officer at Lindenwood University in Saint Charles.

WGSD has hired Dr. Shane Y. Williamson as its first director of diversity, equity and inclusion, effective Oct. 5. Dr. Williamson is currently associate vice president of student life & diversity, dean of students and chief diversity officer at Lindenwood University. pic.twitter.com/317mBv07ml

— Webster Groves SD (@WebsterGrovesSD) September 11, 2020
Schaefer said she isn’t the only person passionate about racial justice in her community but there remains much work to do in changing views on racism.

“I happen to work in Jennings,” she said. “Michael Brown went to my school and actually had lunch with one of the teachers I worked with, so it’s very close to what I do and how I feel. It was natural.”

After the letter appeared in Schaefer’s mail, local churches were defaced with graffiti following events they held to honor the lives of people of color killed unjustly, KSDK reports.

Webster Groves mayor and city council released a statement to KSDK discrediting racist attitudes present in the community and spoke about the social justice work in the making that will affect schools and policing.

“There is no place for racism in our community,” the letter read. “The Webster Groves Police Department is investigating these incidents, and we fully support their work. We affirm our commitment to making Webster Groves a more welcoming community to all, where equity, diversity and inclusion are lived values.”

Among the efforts in development, city officials said in the letter they are planning to conduct an equity audit of city government and continue to have conversations about police reform.

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