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“Blacks, Whites Lie,” Reads Mystery Message

by Paul Bass | Dec 31, 2013 12:00 pm

(8) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Westville

Contributed Photo Westville neighbors are wondering why Arabic notes keep showing up attached to footwear on streetcorners. Police want to know why, too.

Five versions of the note, attached to footwear and usually inside a bag of some sort, have appeared since Nov. 30. They all contain Arabic writing with random insults about different groups, according to top Westville cop Sgt. Renee Forte. Neighbors have found each of the packages in daylight hours and contacted police.

No one group is targeted in the messages, Forte said.

“This is kind of weird. Nothing threatening has happened. We just want to identify who’s doing it to find out why it’s going on.”

Arabic-speaking University of New Haven students living in Blake Street apartments translated the notes for Forte’s cops. One said, “Blacks, whites lie,” she reported. Another said, “Germans lie.” In one of the notes, the writer warned: “Don’t look. You’ll never find me.”

At least one of the notes included the numbers “911” written near “USA.”

The footwear with the messages began appearing on Nov. 30. The most recent sighting occurred this past Saturday. All but the first appeared at the corner of West Elm Street and Alden Avenue. Here’s what happened, according to Forte:

• Nov. 30: A rain boot was found, attached to a poster with Arabic writing, on the sidewalk at West Elm Street and Marvel Road, by Bikur Cholim Sheveth Achim synagogue. The boot and message, photographed by a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous, are pictured at the top of this story. (None of the notes mentioned Jews, Forte said.)
• Dec. 23: A Sacony sneaker was found on a “kid’s step-up stool” next to a utility pole at West Elm and Alden. The note was inside a garbage bag attached to the pole.

• Dec. 24: A shoe was left next to the pole, the note inside a plastic bag attached to the pole.

• Dec. 25: A woman’s Basics running shoe was found on the ground. The note was in a brown shopping bag tied to the pole. The message-dropper left it there shortly before 10 the night before, as captured in this grainy, distant video.

• Dec. 28: A flip flop was on the ground, the note in a bag attached to the pole.

Upon further research, Officer James Evarts learned that shoes can be used to show disrespect in Arabic culture, Forte said. Former President George Bush learned that in a 2008 Baghdad news conference, when a Lebanese reporter named Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw a shoe at him. (Here’s what happened to al-Zaidi as a result.)

Forte asked anyone with information about these incidents to call her at (203) 946-7560 or to call the general police number, (203) 946-6316. She sent an email alert to Westville and West Hills neighbors on Monday. “We are hoping with the help of the community that someone will see the person responsible placing the packages so we can identify him or her,” she wrote.

Paul Bass Photo The mysterious messages have been a topic of conversation among customers at Westville Quality Market, which sits across the street from the spot where four of the five drop-offs have occurred. “I hope it’s nothing,” said market owner Rahul Gandhi (pictured). “But if it’s something, you’ve got to be serious about it.”

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posted by: Edward_H on December 31, 2013  3:12pm

Other than littering what laws have been broken? There are no threats or calls to violence.

posted by: Bill Saunders on December 31, 2013  5:42pm

Call Shoe-Bomb Squad!

posted by: westvilleresident on December 31, 2013  6:27pm

Really Edward H? Almost all packages left at the same corner…how would you feel if you lived at that corner? At least worth a BIT of a look, wouldn’t you think? The article doesn’t declare a Yale style city wide lockdown, just asks that people keep a lookout. What’s wrong with that?

posted by: gioex0323 on January 1, 2014  9:23am

Hey Bill,

I happen to be a civilian law enforcement bomb tech and I find your slick comment to be extremely disrespectful.  My brothers and sisters in arms do a extremely hazardous and thankless job, within a community who’s job is already dangerous.  Yes, the position of a bomb tech is volunteered but I for one am thankful that there a very, very select few who are chosen to do such a job and provide a “service” to communities who will most likely never know of their existence. 

I am sure that at the upcoming Boston Marathon the “Backpack Bomb Squad” will be there in force, while individuals like yourself poke fun and criticize why and what WE do, but as I have learned over the years doing this job those who dare not stand by joke.

Oh, remember Richard Reid the “Shoe Bomber”.

posted by: Trustme on January 1, 2014  2:21pm

I have battled Bill Saunders and Edward H on several occasions, and after reading their new insensitive comments, i rest my case. Gentleman you have to do better than that, maybe a horrific crime hasn’t been committed, but it’s still somewhat suspicious and alarming. No residents of Westville or any other part of New Haven should have to deal with this nonsense. Shame on you.

posted by: vivaelmcity on January 1, 2014  2:44pm

the word for “women” (nisaa’) in the photo above has an extra loop in it, twice.  the word “white” has several extra loops.  this is not the sort of mistake anyone who knew arabic well would make.  imagine writing “m” with an extra loop or two consistently for comparison…

my guess is that whoever wrote this is just learning arabic or, more likely, (mis)copied the words from somewhere, perhaps google translate…

posted by: gioex0323 on January 2, 2014  8:03am

To the Editor,

Is it possible to find out if the Bomb Squad has been consulted with regards to these incidents?  They are highly trained and my have some insight with these incidents, also have they even been called out to properly check these suspicious items, and yes regardless of what people whom are not trained think, these are suspicious.  I would hate for a fellow officer or community member or even child get hurt because of complacency on the part of responding officers, more-so with the supervisors.

To those whom have said a crime has not been committed, you are correct, however this is a nuisance.

posted by: Elmstreetmama on January 2, 2014  5:23pm

I affirm the earlier poster’s observation that the Arabic does not seem consistent with that of a native speaker. Why would someone pose as an Arabic speaker to place odd and vaguely disturbing messages? If it is to arouse fear toward a particular people, sadly, it might be working.

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