Suffolk police are investigating a possible hate crime in Lindenhurst after an African-American family found an anonymous letter in their mailbox urging them to leave town.
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," says the letter, typed in capital letters. "You don't belong here!!!"See alsoHear the family react to the letterMore coverageBias incidents and hate crimes on Long IslandDataLI crime stats
The letter goes 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 ends: "Sorry if this is rude, but it's the truth."
After reading the message, Copes said she was surprised and angry. Then she felt afraid for her family.
Copes said she and her family have lived in Lindenhurst since September 2013 and had never experienced racial hatred in the community before. 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 their 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.