Update: John McEneaney, 57, and Mindy Canarick, 53, have been arrested and charged in connection to their alleged harassment of Jennifer McLeggan. According to the New York Daily News, the pair was arrested Monday. McEneaney was charged with criminal mischief and harassment. Canarick was charged with criminal tampering.
I almost made the mistake of purchasing a home in a predominately white neighborhood. You know, the kind of neighborhood in which you wonder whether or not your brown skin will be perceived as a threat. The kind of neighborhood in which you wonder whether or not your kids will be targeted by their teachers and harassed by their white classmates. The type of neighborhood where you worry whether or not you’ll survive being pulled over by police. Something about the neighborhood never completely sat right with me, but I was lured in by the price of the home and the school district’s ratings. Fortunately, a quick Twitter search using the town’s name a the word “racist” confirmed that my suspicions were accurate and my concerns valid. I was mortified as I scrolled through at least twenty tweets from Black students who attended the local high school. There was footage of white students blatantly using the “n-word” with the hard “er” and screenshots from school administration claiming that they found no evidence of bullying when the footage is there clear as day. My stomach was in knots and I thank God every day that we were able to find a loophole to get out of our contract. For this reason, Jennifer McLeggan’s story deeply resonates with me because I realize that this could have also been my reality.
McLeggan is a single mother and registered nurse who purchased a home two years ago in Valley Stream, New York. Sadly, her homeownership dreams quickly turned into a nightmare when she realized that she was unwelcome by her white neighbors. To detail the mistreatment that she has experienced over the last couple of years, McLeggan posted a giant sign to her front door detailing her horrifying experience — an image that has since gone viral, gaining national attention.
On the sign, McLeggan describes how her neighbors have “thrown human feces” on her property, “planted dead squirrels,” and told her to go back where she came from. Additionally, she has been told she “can be erased” and captured footage of the men coming onto her property with guns.
“The police have said, I need to be harmed for them to make an arrest,” she concluded. “I live in fear for my life at home.”
In an interview with ABC News, McLeggan shared her heartbreaking story in much greater detail. The harassment began during her pregnancy with the policing of her front yard.
“I bought the property when I was pregnant, and this is the truth, the property was in bad shape” she said. “I’m trying my best to make every effort to clean the property. I’ve done my best to clean the property. I mow the lawn, when there’s snow out here I’m shoveling the snow by myself. I’m doing what I can to keep the property clean. I kept on noticing dog feces. I kept on noticing ticket ordinances from the Valley Stream Village town. I keep getting tickets. I keep seeing dog feces. I installed a camera here. I caught my neighbor throwing dog feces in front of my property. I took that video to court, and I won a judgment.”
She went on to confess that she posted the sign as a means of protecting herself and her child.
“In case something happens to me here, then somebody would know I’m in the house with a baby,” she said. “If I die in here, at least cops would see the sign.”
Neighbors from Valley Stream and surrounding towns in Nassau County have since come together to organize protests and other efforts in McLeggan’s defense. Nassau County detectives are now looking into the matter.
“Nassau County will not tolerate any resident being harassed or intimidated because of who they are or what they look like,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement. “We take these allegations seriously, and Nassau County PD is conducting a thorough investigation into the matter.”
One can only imagine how frightening the last two years have been for this McLeggan and her child. A protest has been scheduled for this Thursday.