One U.S. Army veteran says he discovered a hand-written hate note on his car windshield Monday that has since gone viral after it was posted on Facebook.
Staff Sergeant Thomas Keane, who served in the U.S. Army for 24 years from 1990 - 2014 and was awarded a Purple Heart for his service, makes no secret of his passion for the U.S. military. The van upon which the note was left is decorated with military-themed bumper stickers, including one that states he served in Operation Desert Storm during the Gulf War, and Keane's family flies a military flag on the front porch of their St. Cloud, Minnesota home, according to KMSP-TV. Keane believes the note's author targeted him because of his obvious support for the military.
"I went to turn the car on, and I see the letter on my windshield," Keane told KMSP. "It's just disturbing."
The note, which was scribbled in orange capital letters, read, "U U.S. SOLJER, U KILL R BROTHERS — U LEAVE HERE NOW," shocked Keane with its targeted hatred.
The author used proper acronym periods on U.S., and spelled other words correctly with silent E's, but then spelled soldier with a J: "SOLJER," all suggesting the possibility the author was either aiming to appear younger, or non-native to the English language.
Some believe the letter left for Keane represents growing evidence of a city deeply divided over increasing racial tensions.
"It's not surprising. There's hatred in St. Cloud," Natalie Rinsgmuth, an organizer with Unite Cloud, told KMSP. "We know that, and we fight against that every day. This is just another day that we need to talk about, another day to have a conversation."
Keane said that he is willing to help engage in and facilitate these conversations through his own personal experiences.
"Be open-minded and open-hearted — but always cover your six," Keane told KMSP, referencing the military expression cautioning one to "watch one's back."
A fellow veteran, Jonathan Ksepka, posted Keane's letter to his Facebook page Monday. Since it was first posted, it has been shared almost 11,000 times.
"A fellow veteran living in St Cloud was leaving his house this morning (4/4/16) and found this on the windshield of his van," Ksepka's post read. "This happened in his driveway while he and his family where home! To all my brothers and sisters out there please give this as much visibility as you can. Watch your 6 and stay safe."
Although many people responded positively to the Facebook post, Ksepka issued a follow-up status the next day to defend his posting of the picture after it received some hateful responses.
"It's been brought to my attention that many sharing my previous post have taken it and turned it into a vehicle for a message of hate. To all those people all I can say is shame on you, SHAME ON YOU!" Ksepka wrote. " That post was meant only to make my fellow veterans and service members aware that these kinds of threats have been made in the area. I specifically did not mention any racial, ethnic, cultural, or religious group because it isn't about that. If we resort to gross generalizations and messages of bigotry and hate then we are no better than the INDIVIDUALS that would leave that kind of note. Please share this post as much as the previous one, as it is equally important."
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