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Wisconsin Man Sends Pic of Lynching to Black Family, Says It Was Not Racist

A Wisconsin man said he was not being racist when he sent a threatening note to an African-American family with a photo of a lynching. He was just angry at their son.

It is not the first lie 21-year-old Matthew J. Cimaroli told police after he was caught sending the note to the Hale family. First, he said he did not do it at all, and when that didn’t work he claimed he was actually the victim and the Hale’s son stole from him, making him mad and forcing him to retaliate.

Police, however, were able to link Cimaroli’s DNA with the hate mail and Cimaroli finally fessed up that it was him all along.

He claimed the image – which he said he first saw in a textbook and then googled to send with the letter- he picked out because, “he felt it would be scary” according to the complaint and not because of the obvious racial overtones.

The family said the image was not only ‘scary’ but definitely racist.

On top of the historic image of a lynching of two black men being hanged by an angry white mob, Cimaroli had grafted a picture of Javon, the Hales’ college-aged son. Beside it, Cimaroli had written, “Your Days are Numbered.”

Hester Hale said after receiving the letter, the entire family could not shake the image.

“They think something’s going to happen to us,” Hale said, pointing out that Javon, the target of the attack, was the hardest hit.

She also said that even if the sender thought it was a joke, threatening people and making people feel unsafe is not okay.

“If they think it’s a prank, it’s not funny at all,” she said before police traced the letter to the 21-year-old. “I hope somebody has the heart to tell someone so we can fix it and move on with our lives.”

Cimaroli was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and obstructing an officer. He still maintains he did not send the letter “for any racist reasons.”

Photo Credit: Police File Photo

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.

  • Susan Tague

    This is not a hate crime? I don’t get it