Updated: 5:43 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a number of instances in which Black Lives Matter signs were stolen or damaged in Roseville. But police became even more concerned when someone nailed a raccoon up to a post near one of those signs.
After George Floyd's death in May, Anita MacDonald and her teenage daughters came home from protests inspired to make Black Lives Matter signs. They put one in the front yard and one in the backyard that sits along County Road B, a busy street in Roseville.
They repeatedly had to remake one of the signs — because it was pulled up, spray painted or destroyed.
Then at two different times, they found a couple of raccoon carcasses next to the backyard sign.
Fourteen-year-old Grace MacDonald did not think it was a random act.
"It's horrible where they have such a mindset where they think it's fine to put a dead raccoon by a sign showing support for people that have had to face so much — and continue to face — so much discrimination in this country and world," she said.
It was unsettling enough to find raccoons on the ground near the signs. But about a month later, another incident left everyone shaken.
A raccoon was nailed to a telephone pole, close to the sign, with a long spike through its mouth.
Police say they believe the animal was intentionally killed for this purpose.
"It's horrifying, it's so cruel,” Anita MacDonald said. ”I think it's a very specific message. It's just very upsetting to think that someone would go out of their way to do that.”
Roseville police have received several reports of damage to Black Lives Matter signs since June. They've made one arrest for damage to property.
Police also have received reports of dead raccoons along County Road B, on the southern edge of the suburb.
On Friday, Roseville police released photos of two suspects — a man and a woman — believed to be responsible for the theft of several Black Lives Matter signs on the evening of June 19. They were seen with a black Dodge pickup truck that appeared to have an exercise machine in its bed.
And on June 25, police say they identified a 55-year-old man who allegedly admitted to damaging a sign because he found it offensive. The Roseville man is facing facing charges of misdemeanor criminal damage to property. Detectives are trying to determine if he was involved in any of the other cases and whether the crimes are connected.
Deputy Police Chief Erika Scheider said the department has not seen many racially motivated incidents like these.
"Obviously it's really concerning for that neighborhood and we know that it's brought a lot of trauma, not only to that neighborhood but to the entire community," Scheider said.
The use of a raccoon pinned up on a post is offensive. The animal has been used as a racist slur against African Americans.
The MacDonalds say they'll continue to use their voices as white people to get the message out that Black Lives Matter. Carrie, who's 19, says she's not giving up.
"We're going to keep putting [signs] up. It's kind of like a mini war, it feels empowering to do it but very necessary even when it gets disheartening."
Roseville police are asking for the public’s help in identifying suspects.
MPR News photographer Evan Frost contributed to this story.
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