Coffee shops in Detroit and Lansing, Mich., recently received letters containing anti-LGBTQ+ hate and threats.
Gathering Coffee Co. in Detroit and Strange Matter Coffee Co., which has two locations in Lansing, received the letters within a week of each other, Detroit TV station WDIV reports. The letters were each 10 pages long. Both companies are queer-identified.
Gathering Coffee got its letter February 21. It “held words, phrases, and images of hate and fear,” the business’s owners posted on Instagram. “Amidst its contents were also dates and threats of potential harm.” The shop closed until today to put safety measures in place and let the dates pass.
Strange Matter Coffee received a similar letter that was postmarked in mid-February but was just discovered Tuesday. It contained “specific dates, images of hate, and threatening phrases,” the company wrote on Instagram. The business announced Tuesday on Instagram that its two shops would be closing for a few days “out of an abundance of caution.” The owners have now decided to reopen Friday.
“A lot of it was quite frankly nonsensical rambling, but the things that got our attention was references to bombs, WWIII, hate speech and symbols,” Elaine Barr, who owns Strange Matter with her wife, Cara Nadler, told the Lansing State Journal. “Several of the dates had already passed, but we wanted to be cautious of some of the upcoming days in the letter.”
Gathering Coffee has launched a GoFundMe campaign. It has raised more than $9,000 toward its $10,500 goal. The money will go toward hiring a security guard, paying employees’ wages for the days the shop was closed, and covering other costs.
The FBI’s Detroit office is investigating the threats. “The FBI takes threats to the public very seriously,” Special Agent Mara Schneider, public affairs officer for the FBI in Detroit, told the Journal by email. “We work closely with our local partners to assess and respond to threats and keep our community safe. As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities that could represent a threat to public safety.”