An African-American family living in Lindenhurst, New York was sent an anonymous letter this week urging them to leave the village and move to a place “where there are more people like you,” WPIX reports.
“You don’t belong here!!!” reads the racist note 37-year-old Ronica Copes found in her mailbox on Thursday. “Please leave Lindenhurst as soon as you can. It will be better for all of us.”
“The anger was there, the hurt was there,” husband Darcell Copes told WABC, “and then, of course, fear.”
In the days since the Copeses received the letter, Darcell says the community has rallied around the family, offering them overwhelming support.
“To the coward who committed a hate crime against an innocent family in Lindenhurst,” wrote Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Friday, “There is no place for intolerance in Suffolk County. I know the Suffolk County Police Department will do everything possible to solve this hate crime, out you and see you punished.”
Another statement signed by the mayors and other elected officials of Lindenhurst and Babylon similarly denounced the letter’s anonymous author:
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. We are, and always will be, a strong diverse community that does not cede ground to hostility, ignorance, or hatred, wherever it may appear.
Darcell Copes himself had a more hopeful message for the letter writer.
“Sometimes you have a preconceived idea of how a person is just because you don’t know them. You don’t know how they live, you don’t know what they believe,” Copes told WABC. “I’ll continue to pray for you and you need to get out and meet people.”
According to News 12 Long Island, the Suffolk County Hate Crime Unit is now investigating the letter, which has been sent off for fingerprinting.