Police in a Pennsylvania township are investigating after a day care center received an anonymous letter calling for an African-American worker to be fired because of her skin color.
Dominique McKelley, owner of the Bridge 2 Creative Learning Center in Whitehall, received an envelope in the mail Tuesday, Oct. 3, addressed to herself and one of her workers, The Morning Call reported. The letters arrived with no return address.
The unnamed author, purported to be a parent, threatened to pull his or her child from the center because the employee’s skin was too dark. The racially charged letter was posted to social media where daycare staff and the community condemned it.
“This is not OK,” McKelley told the newspaper, her voice quivering with emotion at times. “It’s gone too far — this hatred. Now you’re targeting a day care center?”
Whitehall police chief Michael Marks said he’s never seen a letter so offensive in his 20 years of police work, adding that whoever is responsible could face both harassment and ethnic intimidation charges.
“It’s disturbing. This is not something you want to see in your community,” Marks said, noting that no similar incidents have been reported in the area. “This is something we as a police department are going to take very seriously.”
McKelley told the newspaper she has several Black staffers and students at the day care, which serves over 130 children in the area. While the local day care already has security measures in place for the safety of its children, she said workers are now on added alert and are leaving the facility in pairs so that no one is left alone.
The owner also said she has since briefed her staff on the letter but was nervous about disclosing it to the worker she believed to be the target.
“She started crying. She looked scared,” McKelley said of her employee. “She said she was going to quit. But I convinced her to stay. This has gotten everyone here so fired up.”
“To see that look on her face when she read it … it just gets to you,” she added.
McKelley said she doesn’t believe a parent is responsible for the letter because the center is in a tight-knit community whose members rallied behind the targeted worker after news of the racist letter hit social media.
“Here, we treat our staff like family,” Cyruss Quaye, a staff member of five years, told The Morning Call. “We have all been trying to put a smile on her face. This has assured me how strong she is. I look up to her for standing up and staying here. This is where she belongs.”