A Virginia woman says she and her family have endured relentless harassment from her racist neighbors—and the police claim they can’t do anything about it.
Jannique Martinez detailed her experience in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, claiming one of her neighbors frequently plays recordings of racist skits, monkey sounds, and loud music whenever residents leave their homes in the Salem Lakes neighborhood of Virginia Beach.
“We noticed a little erratic behavior like these blinking lights that are on a sensor. When my family or any other family leaves or returns to their homes, they all start to blink,” Martinez explained. “When the sensors are activated, loud music begins to play. He switches the music based on the family that is activating the music.”
The mother, who moved into the area five years ago, said the music has since been replaced by monkey sounds and racist skits he allegedly found online. Martinez said she and her family made it a point to not directly confront the neighbor, as they didn’t want to provoke him; however, there was one morning when Martinez became so fed up with the noise and lights that she decided to approach the neighbor and asked him to turn the sounds down. The neighbor allegedly said he would call the police “to make sure I’m in good standing with the law.”
“Since that day he’s been playing N----- skits that he found online,” she said, before quoting portions of the alleged skits. “[They say] ‘Black people have nothing better to do but go to a comedy club on a Friday night. Hey everyone, look it’s N----- guy. Everyone say, ‘hi N----- guy.’”
Martinez told Lemon she has no intentions to move, but has become increasingly frustrated over the situation, especially because police say they cannot charge the neighbor with any crime. She said she was told by authorities that the man was protected under freedom of speech, and that if she wanted to take any action, she’d have to go to civil court.
“So I went to talk to a judge in civil court, and although he was a little bit more compassionate, he just basically told me that if [the neighbor] did not threaten my family or pose any bodily harm that there’s nothing the courts can do about it,” Martinez said. “So leaving the courtroom, I felt deflated. I felt so defeated. I just felt like I couldn’t protect my kids. I couldn’t imagine living like this in my own home … It really broke my heart.”
A spokesperson for the Virginia Beach Police Department told CNN officers are aware of the “appalling” situation, but they determined the neighbor’s actions were not criminal.
“The observed conduct has been reviewed with the City Attorney for potential criminal sanctions,” the police said in a statement. “However, it was determined that the activity, though appalling, is not criminally actionable.”