Lansing, MI – Four Michigan coffee shops have temporarily closed their doors after the owners received 10-page letters that included hate speech and threats of potential harm, including several dates.
All four of the shops, two locations of Strange Matter Coffee Co., 517 Coffee Company in Lansing and The Gathering Coffee Co. in Detroit, are known for their affiliation with and support of the LGBTQ+ community.
“We cannot let someone else’s hate, keep our doors closed,” said The Gathering owner Emily Steffen, in an Instagram post announcing the reopening date, which comes after the dates included in the letter.
“The letter in its ten pages, held words, phrases, and images of hate and fear,” Steffen said in the GoFundMe description. “Amidst its contents were also dates and threats of potential harm.”
The letter sent to the owners of Strange Matter, Cara Nader and her wife Elaine Barr, is being investigated by the Lansing Police Department and FBI Detroit Field Office.
“The letter we received was extremely antisemitic, but again, our letter provided no specific or direct threat,” reads a post on the Strange Matter Instagram page. “The ramblings included some close dates in March that made us uncomfortable. The dates did not indicate any specific threat. There were many dates past and future scribbled all over the 10 pages. Considering how endemic violence and hate are, we decided to err on the side of extreme caution and shut down for a few days. We feel safe reopening on 3/3 because it’s past the few dates that really jumped out at us.”
517 Coffee Company owner James Defrees said he received a 10-page letter on Feb. 16 with “police” as the recipient on the envelope but with the shop’s address. He said the letter seemed more “prophetic in nature rather than direct threats.” The letter had swastikas, planes dropping bombs and other “ramblings” relating to WW III and former President Donald Trump.
“As far as content goes the letter claims to be from someone who is Russian. Lots of Bible references, number sequences, drawings like: swastikas, planes dropping bombs, etc., and references to WWIII and Jewish people/Jewish religion,” Defrees wrote in an email. “In parts, the letter claims “they have Nazis” in the U.S., Russia will bomb US power plants, Don Trump is or will be back, Trump is starting a war, as well as mentioning other countries like Israel, Iran, France, and the UK.”