Local News

Community caravan protests hateful letter sent to Wakefield Estates family

Posted July 11, 2020 12:07 p.m. EDT
Updated July 12, 2020 9:38 a.m. EDT

Editor's note: WRAL has received several inquiries from residents of Wakefield Plantation concerned that their neighborhood was mentioned in a July 6 story. The neighbors interviewed all identified themselves as Wakefield Plantation residents. Their mailboxes all have "WP" neighborhood logos on them. The neighborhood entrance has the “WP” logo on it. When the Wakefield Plantation Community Association pointed out that technically these homes are in Wakefield Estates, WRAL adjusted the story.

A community caravan traveled from Forest Ridge Park and drove through Wakefield Estates and Wakefield Plantation in protest of a hateful letter that was sent to an interracial couple.

About a dozen cars filled with residents of the Wakefield Estates and Wakefield Planation neighborhoods drove through the two neighborhoods and ended their drive at Wakefield High School.

To show support, the community painted messages and put posters on their cars as a stand against racism.

"We want them to know this is not OK, and we stand with you in solidarity," said Joanna King, who was part of the caravan. "You are not alone. There are people that are with you."

After the caravan, the group then marched peacefully with signs.

"When you see a family being targeted and trying to show that diversity in Wakefield, it is heartbreaking," said Nuness Biongo. "I am glad the issue is being put in the forefront today, that everybody can see all the things that have been going on for a very long time. Having everybody come together and support that cause ... it means a lot to myself and everyone else going through it."

Organizers of the caravan and march had called off a larger event planned for Saturday. They issued this statement:  "We are overwhelmed by the love and support this community showed today. While the decision to cancel the larger event was a difficult one to make, we learned today that our community did not need an organized event. Just the will to stand in the face of hate.

Wakefield stepped up today as individuals who were resolved to unite together in support of their fellow neighbor. This day was always meant to showcase the diversity, love, and support that exists in our community. Wakefield absolutely succeeded in sharing that message today and we could not be more proud. Love always wins."

The Wake County Sheriff's Office told WRAL on Friday that the FBI is looking into the letter.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said Friday that she doesn't see any basis for criminal charges, but the federal investigation could involve civil rights violations.

"[P]lease remember that the rest of us live in an upscale neighborhood and have spent the extra money to stay out of mixed neighborhoods and/or the ghetto," the letter states. "No one wants trouble or any circumstance arising which could turn our neighborhood into a 'semi-ghetto.'"

The family responded by sending copies of the letter to their Wakefield Estates neighbors, along with their own note. They said to the person who wrote the anonymous letter that they would be happy to discuss love, respect, racism with that person.

The family also issued a statement about the incident to WRAL News:

"We want to acknowledge that this letter does not compare to some of the more dire circumstances many people find themselves in on a regular basis due to bigotry. However, it was shocking and ignorant. The outrage, support and kind words expressed to us by so many in our community have overpowered the hate expressed from the one person who wrote the letter. Our hope is for this to inspire respectful conversations and courageous self-examination about bias and racism. To the person who wrote the letter, we pray for your heart to be released from bitterness and filled with understanding and compassion for others. Black lives do matter."

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