SKOWHEGAN, Maine —
Multiple residents of Skowhegan, Maine, are alarmed after receiving letters with racist symbols.
The messages invite the recipients to a white supremacist meeting.
On Monday, Derek Ellis, a member of the area school board, came home to find a green envelope containing the invitation in his mailbox.
"There was one oddball envelope with no return address," said Ellis, who said he "wasn't shocked" to get the piece of mail after being alerted by others who had received the same note.
"It's kind of creepy," said Iver Lofving, who received the same invite in a purple envelope. "My wife is a woman of color. It makes us very nervous."
The invitation is for a non-existent event at the public library in Belfast later in October, claiming to be hosted by Maine's Green Party.
A staff member at the library confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the event doesn't exist.
Ellis described thinks the letter was a "hoax," but he also said it makes him feel "uneasy."
"Its intent may be harmless, but its effect can be harmful," said Ellis.
As for why the two men were sent the letter, neither can say for sure.
However, they acknowledge it may have something to do with the fact they both supported the effort to get rid of the "Skowhegan Indians" mascot, used by the area school system until a school board vote this March, part of a yearslong, heated debate over the symbol and its meaning.
"Whether this is connected or not, I don't know," said Ellis. "The names I know that have gotten these are people working in our communities to stem racism."
Adding to the unease, some of those people don't get mail at their homes, though the letters were postmarked and delivered there.
Despite the harsh words for the past few years and the connotations of the symbols sent this week, both Ellis and Lofving say Skowhegan can and should set a better example.
"It's a beautiful place," said Lofving. "We have a lot of good stuff going on here."
"If you drop of bag of groceries, someone will pick it up," said Ellis. "Jokes like this are dangerous. That's not what we are."