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Culture

A Black family in Virginia is being subjected to a bizarre, racist assault every time they step outside

A Black family in Virginia is being subjected to a bizarre, racist assault every time they step outside

In today's episode of "WTF, America?", we head to Virginia Beach, where a Black family of Navy veterans is battling a racist, wackadoodle neighbor who is terrorizing them with lights and racist recordings every time they enter or leave their own home.

Jannique Martinez told NBC affiliate WAVY that the neighbor has been harassing her family and others in the neighborhood for more than a year.

"Whenever we would step out of our house, the monkey noises would start. It's so racist, and it's disgusting. I don't even know how else to explain it," Martinez said.

Martinez told WAVY that the neighbor is retaliating for her complaining about him playing his music so loud it shook her house. But Martinez's family is not the only one to have audio blasted and lights flashing when they leave their home. According to Martinez, the neighbor has eight security cameras on his property aimed at his neighbors and different songs he blasts at each one. She said the racist audio directed at her family gets triggered even when her children are playing outside.


"My son is terrified of him. Terrified, terrified," Martinez said. "The N-word situation … they came to me and said, 'Mom, what's that?' I didn't subject my kids to that. I didn't think they would ever have to learn what this means."

The police issued a statement saying that while the neighbor's behaviors are "appalling and offensive," they aren't criminal, according to the city attorney and Virginia magistrates.

"This means the VBPD has had no authority to invervene and warrants were not supported," the police department wrote. "We will closely monitor the situation, investigate complaints and, within the limits of the law, help this family with this most unpleasant situation."

People are calling b.s. on the city's "we can't do anything" response. Virginia Beach has a noise ordinance that this situation should surely fall under. And how such behavior doesn't qualify as harassment or a hate crime is a head-scratcher.

Martinez said she has tried talking to the magistrate, going through the civil court and consulting a lawyer, but has come up empty-handed.

"According to the law, it's just a statement or a phrase or he's not doing enough or bodily harm or threats to my family," said Martinez. "Why does it have to go that far before something that can be done? People shouldn't have to live like this. I spent 11 years in the military. My husband is also in the military. We fought for this country, but yet there's no one to fight for us."

Martinez's experience echoes those of countless people who have been stalked or harassed by someone who manages to skirt the edge of criminality. It's frightening to constantly wonder if or when someone's behavior will escalate from creepy and disturbing to physically harmful, and frustrating that the psychological harm of such behavior isn't considered enough for the law to intervene.

The story is being shared widely on social media and people are ready to throw down for the Martinez family. Neighbors did rally together to protest the neighbor's gross behavior on September 24. Martinez told the Virginian-Pilot that her 7-year-old showed courage at the rally. He even made his own sign like the ones his mom and other community members held—one that read "Spread Love, Not Hate."

Yes, little man. Don't let the racists win. This kind of garbage has no place in civil society and if the law doesn't provide protection from targeted harassment at someone's own home, then something in the law needs to change.

The Prince Charles Cinema/Youtube

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