Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has condemned a possible hate crime in Lindenhurst, where an African-American family reported finding an anonymous letter in their mailbox urging them to leave the community.
"To the coward who committed a hate crime against an innocent family in Lindenhurst -- There is no place for intolerance in Suffolk County," Bellone, the former Babylon Town supervisor, said in a statement. "I know the Suffolk County Police Department will do everything possible to solve this hate crime, out you and see you punished.
"I stand together with all Lindenhurst residents who decry this act of hatred. This community and all of Suffolk County are better than that."See alsoHear the family react to the letterMore coverageBias incidents and hate crimes on Long IslandDataLI crime stats
Ronica Copes, 37, said she found the envelope with her address on it when she checked her mailbox about 4 p.m. Thursday.
"This is coming from Lindenhurst community. Lindenhurst is 84% white population," read the letter, typed in capital letters. "You don't belong here!!!"
The letter went on to say, "Please leave Lindenhurst as soon as you can. It will be better for all of us. Find the town where there are more people like you."
The letter ended: "Sorry if this is rude, but it's the truth."
Copes said she was surprised and angered by the message. Then, she felt afraid for her family, which she said has lived in Lindenhurst since September 2013 and had never experienced racial hatred in the community. Now, she's nervous about her niece and nephew walking to school alone.
Copes, who posted the letter on Facebook, said hundreds of people online and in the neighborhood have offered support.
"We feel a great deal of fear, but it subsided a little now because, I have to say, there has been a great outreach from a lot of people," she said.
The Town of Babylon was quick to condemn the letter. A statement from town leaders released Friday vowed to assist police in the investigation.
"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 ... anywhere in our community," the town said.
Police said the Hate Crimes Unit is investigating.