A Massachusetts business owner says she fears for her safety because of a misunderstanding about a sign that claimed incorrectly that her husband is a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.
Salon Bellisimo owner Elaine Devereaux said she became upset after finding the sign outside her Newburyport business Saturday morning.
"It was hanging right down there like flopping in the wind," said Devereaux.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
The hand-written, roughly 6-foot-wide sign was zip-tied to the Clipper City Rail Trail bridge. The sign targeted Devereaux's salon and her husband — who works for the Department of Homeland Security — misidentifying him as an ICE agent and salon owner while calling him "a danger to our community."
"He's not an ICE agent. I mean I don't know who would do it, who would put two and two together and come up with five. It's just ridiculous," Devereaux said.
Protests against ICE have sprung up in Massachusetts across the country in reaction to a policy that has left children and other migrants locked in detention centers. Some have compared the facilities to concentration camps, though President Donald Trump defended the detention centers as necessary.
Mayor Donna Holaday met with the Devereauxs, encouraged them to file a police report and connected them with the city's Human Rights Commission.
"That was really hurtful, inappropriate and inaccurate," Holaday said. "I was absolutely shocked, it's very unusual for incidents like this to occur in the city."
Devereaux was equally shocked — as an immigrant herself, who moved to the U.S. in 1997 and became a citizen in 2011.
"I came over here to get away from that sort of stuff," Devereaux said. "I'm from Belfast and it was very political over there and I don't have anything to do with it."
Devereaux said she hopes whoever made the sign has realized they were very wrong and leaves her, her husband and salon alone.
"It makes me nervous about the business," Devereaux said. "I'm afraid to be here alone."
While the content of the sign is protected by the First Amendment, Holaday said, hanging it from the bridge does violate city ordinances and could result in a fine if authorities can find the culprit.