Local News

'Keep this area upscale' warns letter to interracial Wake Forest family

Posted July 6, 2020 4:45 p.m. EDT
Updated July 10, 2020 3:52 p.m. EDT

Editor's note: WRAL has received several inquiries from residents of Wakefield Plantation concerned that their neighborhood was mentioned as part of this story originally. 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.

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WAKE FOREST, N.C. — Residents of a Wake Forest neighborhood expressed outrage Monday after learning that a family received an unsigned letter last week warning them against posting any Black Lives Matter signs in their yard.

"[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.'"

"I couldn’t believe that someone in my neighborhood – that close to me – would have written something so mean," said Marianna Morin, a neighbor of an interracial couple in the Wakefield Estates community.

"I was horrified, appalled, disappointed, sad," said Kate Pirrung, another neighbor and friend of the family that received the letter.

The anonymous letter singles out the husband and children of the family, saying "no one is interested in your or their 'struggles.'"

"Keep matters inside your own house and do your best to keep this area upscale and free of that element," the letter states. "Most of us would not hesitate to call the police if your kids or husband get unruly, so please be considerate of everyone else living amongst you."

"In the end, underneath all the context, it was a threat: Don’t do this. We'll report you. We'll send people over to your house – the police in this particular incident," neighbor Armand Morin said.

The family responded by sending copies of the letter to their neighbors, along with their own note.

"If you did not write this letter, we wanted you to be aware of what has happened in our neighborhood," the family's note states. "If you are the person that wrote this letter, we will not be intimidated by your cowardly act and ignorance. We are happy to have a discussion regarding love, respect and racism if your have the courage."

"Something has to change," Pirrung said. "We are all God's children. What happened to love thy neighbor, treat each other with respect and kindness?"

Marianna Morin said the letter is a reminder that racism is everywhere.

"It’s not just in the city. It’s not just in the streets. It’s in this neighborhood," she said.

The family 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."

Charleston Management, which works with the Wakefield Estates Homeowners Association, also issued a statement to WRAL:

"Charleston Management and the boards of directors for Wakefield Estates HOA and Wakefield HOA express heartfelt sorrow that an owner in the community, or any other, would receive such a vile and threatening letter. The letter’s sentiments are completely contrary to our company views and those of the associations; nor is it reflective of our experience with the communities’ residents. We applaud the owner’s response, fully support them and truly hope that the anonymous author does not indeed live in the neighborhood."