Spring Grove student receives hate mail after board meeting
A Spring Grove High School junior has received hate mail after calling for the resignation of Matt Jansen, a controversial school board member who is now coming to her defense.
Amy Gunzelman has spoken out about Jansen at four Spring Grove Area School Board meetings, saying he should step down after controversial tweets were posted to his Twitter account.
She most recently addressed the board at its March 6 meeting, at which a crowd of protesters carrying signs such as "Jansen resign now" and "No place for hate" turned out as well.
“Bigotry has no place in making America great again,” she said to cheers and claps after her comments.
Hate: Shortly after, Gunzelman said, she received an unsigned letter addressed to her home, with no return address.
The letter is dated March 7 and starts, "I bet you thought this would be an offer for a college scholarship! Well no it really isn't, and I doubt that you will be offered one unless it would be to some radical leftist or communist institution where they train radicals to act like a fool."
The letter goes on to state that Gunzelman is "making an a--" of herself and criticizes her appearance. It also says the author is opposed to "all real 'Wet Backs' that sneak into this Country illegally." Included with the letter was a flier discussing "illegal immigrants" stealing American jobs.
The author of the letter said he or she would be distributing the flier everywhere.
Gunzelman said she plans to report the letter to the police. While she said she wasn't deeply bothered by it, she was worried that it was addressed to her home.
"I didn't think that anybody would have the audacity to send hate mail to a 17-year-old high school girl," she said, noting the letter-writer claimed they wanted to remain anonymous so they wouldn't receive hate mail in return.
Gunzelman said she thinks the sender got her address from the Spring Grove board meetings. In order to make a public comment to the board, speakers must sign in with their street address and state it before they make their comments. She will speak to the board at its Monday meeting about the policy and ask the board to change it.
'Deplorable': This isn't the first time she's received hate after speaking out. Gunzelman tweeted a picture of a recent post from a fellow Spring Grove student that said, "Amy is going to be the reason someone actually brings a gun to school instead of just spreads rumors."
However, the letter was the first thing to be sent to her home.
Jansen said he also has received hate mail. He has had to change his personal cell phone number and has been physically assaulted. He said in a statement that Gunzelman has the right to disagree with him, and that no one should be threatening her.
"To harass a child is truly deplorable," he said. "This young lady and I do not agree on many issues, and that is clear, but to harass her or mistreat her because she has decided to publicly disagree with me is inexcusable."
Gunzelman agreed and said sending hate mail to anyone, including Jansen, is cowardly.
"Regarding him having hate mail sent to his house, it's awful," she said. "It definitely isn't proving our point that hate shouldn't win."
Spring Grove's superintendent, school board, community relations coordinator and the community relations coordinator's assistant did not return requests for comment Thursday.
Background: In January, the Twitter account for Jansen, who also was an elected delegate to the Republican National Convention, reportedly tweeted, "Well than this wetbacks family should be thrown out of the country," in response to an article from Breitbart, a conservative news website.
He claimed the tweet was the result of his account being hacked, but he has not reported it to the police. At the March 6 school board meeting, Jansen told reporters he had evidence he was not behind the tweet, but he would not share this evidence with the media for fear of it being turned around on him.
That wasn't the first time Jansen found himself in a Twitter controversy — he came under fire last summer when he tweeted about a sign outside a church that wished Muslims a happy Ramadan.
Jansen later apologized for the tweet and dined with Muslims at Hadee Mosque in Harrisburg when they invited him.