Law enforcement officials say white substance found in letter is harmless
by Lesley R. Chinn
A letter with threatening language and racial epithets was sent to Congressman Bobby Rush’s office last Thursday.
Firefighters and police arrived on the scene shortly before noon at 700 E. 79th Street, where Rush’s office was located. Streets were blocked off around 79th Street and Langley near the Congressman’s office. The office was evacuated at around 11:30 a.m., said Toure Muhammad, Rush’s spokesman.
The letter arrived around 10 a.m. to the office in the mail. After fire department officials analyzed the substance, they discovered it was NutriSweet, a sugar substitute often used in coffee, said Sixth District Police Sgt. Ray Okonski, who joined FBI and fire department officials to work on the case. The note is in custody with law enforcement agents, Muhammad stated.
Congressman Rush, who was in Washington, D.C. at the time of the incident, had been known for his outspokenness in support of seating Roland Burris for the vacated U.S. Senate seat once occupied by President-elect Barack Obama.
Asked whether the note had anything to do with the Congressman’s actions, Muhammad said that there is no way to tell at this time. He said, the note, which was confiscated by law enforcement officials, did not contain any references to Burris at all. “Congressman Rush has always been someone who has spoke up for the people, but we don’t know what sparked (the threatening letter) at this time,” Muhammad stated.
At the time of the incident, Rush representatives in Washington, D.C., were also informed about the matter. “We’re very concerned. Things are happening very fast right now, but we’re letting the authorities do their job,” Muhammad stated.
FBI officials did not issue a comment on the case because it is an ongoing investigation.