New Jersey community rallies behind Black-owned bookstore following racist threat

After receiving a threat, Sandra Dear showed gratitude to customers after receiving support of the Bayonne, New Jersey community

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The Black owner of a New Jersey bookstore was the subject of racist threats last month.

After word of the news spread, patrons showered the owner, Sandra Dear, with support and encouragement.

In an Instagram post dated Nov. 22, Dear described how customary hate letters, which came over the years, escalated to violent rhetoric when the business received a series of disturbing emails in a 15-minute span, followed by a phone call that included a threat on her life.

“Last night a tear finally escaped,” she wrote in the post explaining the story.

“These emails were quickly follow [sic] by a racially charged phone call to the store where verbals [sic] threats were made against my life,” the post read. “Shaken, I contacted the authorities, who responded swiftly, assuring me that the matter would be given the utmost attention, and that all steps would be taken to ensure that no harm came to me. 

City police tracked down the individual making the threat and captured him the next day as he approached the bookstore on Nov. 21, said Dear, who was not at the bookshop at the time of the arrest.

READ MORE: Book publishing insiders reveal systemic racism in industry: ‘I was tossed out like the trash’

The man was identified as Qiuewn Zheng. The 59-year-old was charged with making terroristic threats, bias intimidation and cyber-harassment. He is currently being held at Hudson County Correctional Center without bail.

Little Boho Bookstore in Bayonne, New Jersey (via Facebook)

The week later, days after Thanksgiving, Dear took to social media again, this time with a positive message thanking customers for supporting her during a difficult time.

“One week to the day of one of the the [sic] most difficult moments of my life, you walked into my happy place yesterday with an overriding message, ‘Love overcomes Hate,'” she wrote on Facebook. “Please know that I saw you, I heard you, was completely moved by you, but mostly I thank you for seeing me.”

READ MORE: Black-owned bookstores want action after in-flux in business

Patrons had come to the store in droves, often waiting in line outside, to purchase books for Small Business Saturday.

SHOP SMALL SATURDAY 2020….. A day I won’t soon forget! One week to the day of one of the the most difficult moments…

Posted by The Little BOHO Bookshop on Sunday, November 29, 2020

Dear opened Little Boho Bookshop in the summer of 2017. Despite getting a warm and large welcoming reception from the neighborhood, she has since received racially insensitive letters, emails and messages.

“Get out, we do not want your kind here,” one note from August 2017 said, as reported by NBC News. The message was slid under the Bayonne, New Jersey bookstore door.

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