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A family says their neighbor plays recordings of racial slurs and monkey noises. Police say that’s ‘not criminally actionable’

  A family says their neighbor plays recordings of racial slurs and monkey noises. Police say that's 'not criminally actionable'
When the Martinez family moved into their new home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, five years ago, they had dreams of raising their children and making a life in their new neighborhood cul-de-sac. © Courtesy Jannique Martinez A general view of Jannique Martinez’s neighborhood is seen in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on September 24. “The minute we found this home, I loved it,” Jannique Martinez told CNN. “It was everything I envisioned for my family and for raising my kids in a nice, quiet neighborhood.

Police in Virginia Beach say they can’t do anything to stop a neighbor blasting recordings with racial slurs and monkey noises at a Black family.

Jannique Martinez, her husband and their three children have lived in their home on Jessamine Court in Virginia Beach for five years.

Her family have dealt with loud music and taunting behavior for the majority of that time, she told The Virginian-Pilot. “This is life for us, and just to know that no one protects us. No one—no law,” she said. “I can’t live like this.”

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Martinez told CNN that her family’s ordeal began with blinking lights that her neighbor put on a sensor, activated whenever her family or others in the neighborhood leave or enter their homes.

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“When the sensors are activated, loud music begins to play,” she told the network. “He switches the music based on the family that is activating the music.”

More recently, she says her neighbor has started to play monkey noises whenever her family go out or return home. The behavior escalated after her family complained to police, she said, with her neighbor now also playing recordings featuring racial slurs.

“I’m not going to lie, if I had any imagination it would be like this, we would have not bought this house,” she added. “I would never sign up for this.”

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In a statement posted on Twitter last week, the Virginia Beach Police Department said they’re powerless to take action against the neighbor.

“The VBPD has responded to several calls for several over the past several months related to nuisance/loud music complaints on Jessamine Court,” the statement said.

— Virginia Beach PD (@VBPD) September 30, 2021

“As appalling and offensive as the neighbors’ behaviors are, the city attorney and Virginia magistrates have separately determined that the actions reported thus far did not rise to a level that Virginia law defines as criminal behavior.

“This means the VBPD has had no authority to intervene and warrants were not supported. We will closely monitor the situation, investigate complaints and, within the limits of the law, help this family with this most unpleasant situation.”

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Recent reports in this year’s Virginia governor’s race have suggested a “tightening” contest, with the state’s Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe only holding a slim edge over Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin a month out from the election. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, among the most respected of the electoral prognosticators, leant its weight to those reports last week when it nudged the race in Youngkin’s favor, from “lean Democratic” to “toss-up.” © Provided by The Daily Beast Win McNamee/Getty Those reports lean on polling, fundraising numbers, as well as a healthy dose of gut feeling.

Martinez recently posted a video of some of the offensive recordings on Facebook.

“In this day and age this is what me and my family have to deal with,” she wrote alongside the clip. “My hateful neighbor plays this along with the monkey noises towards me and my family, EVERY SINGLE DAY!! There are no laws in the commonwealth that protect us from it. This affects my kids mentally and emotionally. It’s a sad moment for all of us!!”

Newsweek has contacted Martinez and the Virginia Beach Police Department for additional comment.

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