An anonymous racist sent a hate note to an African-American family in Long Island, telling them “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE.”
Ronica Copes, 37, a resident of Lindenhurst in the town of Babylon, found the typewritten, all-capital-letter message in an addressed envelope in her mailbox on Thursday afternoon, she told Newsday.
“ATTN: AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILY,” begins the letter, which she later posted to Facebook. “THIS IS COMING FROM LINDENHURST COMMUNITY.”
“LINDENHURST IS 84% WHITE POPULATION. YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!!! PLEASE LEAVE LINDENHURST AS SOON AS YOU CAN. IT WILL BE BETTER FOR ALL OF US.”
“FIND THE TOWN WHERE THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU,” the note ends, according to WCBS-TV. “SORRY IF THIS IS RUDE, BUT IT’S THE TRUTH.”
Suffolk County Police are investigating the correspondence as a possible hate crime, according to Newsday. Copes has lived in her house with her mother, her two siblings and five nieces and nephews since September 2013, but she told the publication that she hasn’t experienced any racism firsthand in the community.
Copes’ mother Darcell told WNBC-TV has jolted the family,
“I went from being fearful, protecting my family, to being totally confused, and wanted to know who and why,” the elder Copes told the TV station. “Today, it becomes even deeper: is it someone in the school district, is it the guy at the corner store, is it my neighbor down the street? Where?”
A dozen elected officials from Lindenhurst and Babylon, including Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer and Lindenhurst Village Mayor Tom Brennan, condemned the letter in a statement released on Friday afternoon.
“The best way to fight bias is with solidarity and we stand with all of our residents in declaring that there is no place for this type of intolerance and hatred in the Village of Lindenhurst, the Town of Babylon, or anywhere in our community,” the officials said in the statement. “We are, and always will be, a strong diverse community that does not cede ground to hostility, ignorance, or hatred, wherever it may appear.”
The younger Copes told the local newspaper that the family has no plans to leave the south shore Long Island town, which has a population of 27,000 that is just over 84% white and nearly 2% black, according to census figures.
“We feel a great deal of fear, but it subsided a little now because, I have to say, there has been a great outreach from a lot of people,” Copes said.