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'People still want to attack us:' Liberian community reacts to hundreds of racial postcards

The postcards reference the murder of 14-year-old Jupiter Paulsen, who was killed by a native of Liberia. The teen's family says race was not the motive for the murder.

Racial Litter
West Fargo Police are asking for help in identifying who distributed these racially divisive packets across southern West Fargo.
Special to the Pioneer
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WEST FARGO — "I was really shocked," said Ebeneezer Saye.

He is the president of the United Liberians Association in North Dakota. About 4,000 Liberians live across the metro.

"We live as peaceful people. We have our children here. We have people living in peace," he said.

However, some are in fear after hundreds of racially divisive postcards were found in bags along the road and in yards off Sheyenne Street in West Fargo.

The message on them reads: "The great replacement and its consequences."

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It includes two pictures of 14-year-old Jupiter Paulsen, one showing her smiling and another of her dying on her hospital bed. There is also a mugshot of her killer, Arthur Kollie, who was convicted of her murder last week.

He is originally from Liberia.

"I said it over and over, this is going to bring fear. This is going to bring fear," Saye said.

The Liberian community met with the teen's family at the location of the murder days after it happened last year. They also hosted a church service for the family and attended Jupiter's funeral to show they condemn the act of one bad apple in their community.

"To reawaken the anger of the people in the community, we condemn the act," Saye said, referring to the postcards.

"It's troublesome. It's divisive," said West Fargo Police Chief Denis Otterness.

The West Fargo Police Department is working to identify who is behind the message. They are asking people in that area of the city to check surveillance cameras from overnight. While disturbing, until the people are identified, the chief says it's unclear if a crime was committed. The postcards could be protected by the constitution as free speech.

"All the way down to a minor littering charge, there is an ordinance that prohibits this type of behavior. Until we thoroughly looking in to all the details, we won't know that," Otterness said.

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Until the people are identified, the local Liberian community says it's going to be hard to go out in public.

"It means people still want to attack us, or people want to show the community we are bad people," said Saye.

West Fargo police are looking into whether this incident may be connected to other incidents with the exact same flier being distributed in communities around the Twin Cities in recent weeks.

It's unclear why corn was placed in the bags. Police think it may have been used as a weight.

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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