'You May Die': Utah Asian Americans Receive Threatening Letters

Police in Utah have launched an investigation after several Asian Americans in the Salt Lake Valley area were reported to have received anonymous threatening letters.

The identical letters each stated Asians "need to go back to their countries now before more Asian's are KILLED...spread the word or you may die." The letter made several claims against Asians such as that they "caused Covid 19 and lied about it."

The note, ending with the numbers "666," was dated March 17, 2021, which marks the day after the massage parlor shootings in the Atlanta area of Georgia that killed eight people, including six Asian women.

Referencing the Atlanta attacks, the note concluded "Spread the word or you may die. More people will target Asian's for death."

The typed letter was reportedly received by at least four households, including in Taylorsville and West Valley City, either at their doorsteps or in the mailbox, according to a Salt Lake Valley resident who is originally from Vietnam, Utah's Deseret News reported.

The resident, whose name was withheld due to fears over reprisals from whoever sent the letters, reported the incident to her employer Forethought, a Lehi-based software company.

Speaking to Newsweek, Sgt. Melody Cutler from Utah's Unified Police Department (UPD), which is investigating the incident, said they received one report of a letter sent to an Asian-owned business located in Taylorsville. Cutler said "the owner is not elderly."

"We are working with the US Postal Inspector due to the U.S. mail being utilized. We have not heard from nor do we know who the other people are that a local news station reported received them.

"This is the only Asian-related hate crime we have reported in the last year," she added.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim civil rights advocacy group, also confirmed in a press release that residents in Taylorsville had received the letter.

Forethought's president, Dan Watkins, shared a copy of the letter on his LinkedIn page in a post condemning the incident.

"The attached message was slid under doors of those of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in our state and we as a community must respond.

"With three of my direct reports, two siblings, Mom, one of my sons, and countless people that I love and care about being of Asian or Pacific Islander descent I can't sit idly.

"I ask the people of Utah to call on the media to make this public, share any intel you may have with the police enabling them to seek out the authors of these hateful acts, and let justice be served. Acts of hate do not belong anywhere or among any people," Watkins wrote in the post.

Home security cameras have not captured anyone dropping off the letters, which have no return address.

Cutler said as the letters don't address individuals by name, the incidents would likely fit the offense of threatening terrorism.

Cutler told Newsweek: "They could potentially be facing Terrorist Threats charges or other federal charges depending on what the investigation finds."

"This is no joke. We are talking serious charges," she told Utah's FOX 13:

"When I talk about forensic tests, we don't just do that for no reason. We don't do that on minor crimes.

"This is an individual telling an entire community that they are at risk. That threatens a lot of people. It's not right. It's not fair," she added.

"Especially serious crimes like this, this is a big deal," Cutler told Deseret News.

"If we have multiple people that are receiving the same letter, it's likely coming form an individual or small group of individuals, and taking care of it before it becomes a bigger problem is the goal," she said.

The Salt Lake City and West Valley City police departments have not had any reports of residents receiving these letters. Both departments and the UPD are asking anyone who has been threatened with a letter to come forward.

Newsweek has contacted the UPD, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Asian Association of Utah for comment.

The latest incident follows a string of attacks against Asian Americans reported in recent days, including Monday in New York City where a man was allegedly seen in a viral video kicking a 65-year-old Asian American woman in the stomach and repeatedly kicking her once she fell to the ground.

Also on Monday, a man of Asian descent was threatened with physical violence and accosted with racist slurs during a confrontation inside a Home Depot store in the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

Hate crimes against Asians have been on the rise across the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was first reported in Wuhan, China.

Last year, such crimes were reported to have spiked by nearly 150 percent compared with the previous year, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.

L.A. protest against anti-Asian violence March 2021
People demonstrating against anti-Asian violence and racism in Los Angeles, California on March 27. Utah police have launched an investigation after several Asian Americans in the Salt Lake Valley area received anonymous threatening letters. Mario Tama/Getty Images