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    Default Racist Neighbors - What To Do?




    My parents live in a very nice neighborhood with generally good people. Nonetheless, the people right behind them have been an issue for the 10 years they have been living there. They host late night parties, have actually chanted taunts at neighbors while drinking with friends, and have just been completely crappy people to deal with for my folks. The neighbors have written letters before requesting they be more courteous of those living nearby. The police actually have stopped by before (and did at their previous residence as well).

    Nonetheless, on Saturday night it went to a new level. I was talking to my dad last night and apparently he was outside Saturday evening and they were having a dinner party near their pool. Suddenly he hears the husband that lives there scream out - to paraphrase - "We could bring the food outside, but there is so much clutter it looks like we're living like a bunch of f*cking n*ggers". A woman there yelled at him to shut up (possibly his wife) and the party went quiet for a little bit. My dad was completely taken aback...said his stomach literally turned when he heard it.

    My parents are upset, but don't know what to do. I've told them they should call the city and report that the neighbor was yelling extremely offensive racial slurs (hopefully the police confront him or at least it is on file). My mom took the dog for a walk yesterday and was going to confront them if they were outside...another letter was considered as well. What do you think the correct action would be? I do not want that to slide at all.
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    Are these folks of the redneck variety? Because if they are - don't bother saying anything - it won't mean a thing to them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motor City Sonics View Post
    Are these folks of the redneck variety? Because if they are - don't bother saying anything - it won't mean a thing to them.
    No, not at all. My parents live in a wealthy neighborhood and the man is very high up at a financial firm.
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    Next time you know they are having a party, invite members of the Nation of Islam over for dinner
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    The next time they have a party, go over and say, "Do you mind if we dance wif yo dates?"

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    is it illegal to be a racist on your own property?

    focus on the things that are actually illegal, like noise violations. letters are useless. video is not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeynuts View Post
    My parents live in a very nice neighborhood with generally good people. Nonetheless, the people right behind them have been an issue for the 10 years they have been living there. They host late night parties, have actually chanted taunts at neighbors while drinking with friends, and have just been completely crappy people to deal with for my folks. The neighbors have written letters before requesting they be more courteous of those living nearby. The police actually have stopped by before (and did at their previous residence as well).

    Nonetheless, on Saturday night it went to a new level. I was talking to my dad last night and apparently he was outside Saturday evening and they were having a dinner party near their pool. Suddenly he hears the husband that lives there scream out - to paraphrase - "We could bring the food outside, but there is so much clutter it looks like we're living like a bunch of f*cking n*ggers". A woman there yelled at him to shut up (possibly his wife) and the party went quiet for a little bit. My dad was completely taken aback...said his stomach literally turned when he heard it.

    My parents are upset, but don't know what to do. I've told them they should call the city and report that the neighbor was yelling extremely offensive racial slurs (hopefully the police confront him or at least it is on file). My mom took the dog for a walk yesterday and was going to confront them if they were outside...another letter was considered as well. What do you think the correct action would be? I do not want that to slide at all.
    How about you leave your neighbors alone and do what you can to ignore them?

    I am honestly trying to figure out what I would do if a neighbor did something that upset me...or continues to do. Hard for me to imagine because I guess I would be 'that neighbor' (not in terms of the racial slurs, but the parties etc) so I am VERY tolerant of these things.

    Want to do the 'right thing'? Go over and talk to them personally and just say you were offended and heard what they said about African Americans and see where the dialogue goes.

    Tried that? Then you have 2 choice IMO.

    1. Deal with it.
    2. Move.

    I would bet with a talk you would clear up the problem (at least they may keep their slurs to a low shout so you do not have to hear it).

    Your parents really have no recourse. You cannot 'make them move' or 'vote them out' they have a right to say those things..no matter how offensive it is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zimm View Post
    is it illegal to be a racist on your own property?

    focus on the things that are actually illegal, like noise violations. letters are useless. video is not.
    I actually don't know how that constitutionally sits. Could you sit on your property and just start randomly chanting the n-word over and over? That has to at least violate some local ordinaince...distrubing the peace?
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    Invite Delmon Young over, get a few drinks into him, then unleash the beast.
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_Brian_K View Post
    How about you leave your neighbors alone and do what you can to ignore them?

    I am honestly trying to figure out what I would do if a neighbor did something that upset me...or continues to do. Hard for me to imagine because I guess I would be 'that neighbor' (not in terms of the racial slurs, but the parties etc) so I am VERY tolerant of these things.

    Want to do the 'right thing'? Go over and talk to them personally and just say you were offended and heard what they said about African Americans and see where the dialogue goes.

    Tried that? Then you have 2 choice IMO.

    1. Deal with it.
    2. Move.

    I would bet with a talk you would clear up the problem (at least they may keep their slurs to a low shout so you do not have to hear it).

    Your parents really have no recourse. You cannot 'make them move' or 'vote them out' they have a right to say those things..no matter how offensive it is.
    Yeah, I understand how the whole being loud thing is just the typical neighboor-neighbor squabble, but the screaming of a racial slur made me wonder if there were logical next steps (especially since they'd been spoken to before by the neighbors and police about respecting the community).
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    I don't know that there's anything you can do, as things stand. They have a constitutionally protected right to free speech, which encompasses merely offensive speech. That right does not extend to speech that creates unsafe conditions or that constitute a direct threat, but as you describe things, that does not sound like what's happening here.

    If you were to go over there and try to talk to them about it, it's almost certain that they will not be responsive to your input, and there's a much better than average chance that it will not end either there or well. People who are that "out" about their racism in these times are generally not the most rational people, since they clearly have few filters about what they say in public, even if it is from the relative safety of their own property.

    Obviously, your parents don't want to move, since that is not as easy an undertaking and some might suggest, plus moving has a high financial and opportunity cost.

    The best option I can see for you here, if you're so motivated, is to get really smart about the municipal code in their town and call in as many violations you see them commit as you can. If they party loudly past curfew, call it in. If they keep open garbage on their lawn or violate other aestethic municipal codes, call it in. Encourage the other neighbors to do the same. It might not result in the resolution you want, but there's a better chance it will than just sitting there unhappy and unable to ignore or confront them.

    Best of luck to you and your folks on this.
    Last edited by chasfh; 08-13-2012 at 11:43 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zimm View Post
    is it illegal to be a racist on your own property?

    focus on the things that are actually illegal, like noise violations. letters are useless. video is not.
    I'm pretty sure it is not illegal to be racist just about anywhere, public or private. But people do not have a right to disturb their neighbors just because they are doing so from their property versus anyplace else. Your advice is right on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeynuts View Post
    Yeah, I understand how the whole being loud thing is just the typical neighboor-neighbor squabble, but the screaming of a racial slur made me wonder if there were logical next steps (especially since they'd been spoken to before by the neighbors and police about respecting the community).
    You say it is a nice community....do they have an association or anything similar? If so file a complaint with them. Also even if they do not feel free to keep filing complaints with the city police. I would imagine they (the police) may get tired of having to come out and talk with the neighbors over just words, but at least you have it documented somewhere.

    I know I would like to act like I was all high and mighty and just turn the other cheek, but I doubt I would actually act that way if I had someone who was racist against white people living behind me and did not have a problem voicing that dislike with slures like the ones you mentioned. Most likely I would ignore them, show them disdain, secretely wish they would move and generally not be nice to them when confronted by them. Let them know you do not approve by shunning them.

    Again, I just do not know what you could do.
    "And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force."

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    Could be worse. They could be setting off fireworks at one in the morning.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antrat View Post
    Could be worse. They could be setting off fireworks at one in the morning.
    I see you, JBK!
    lol

    You SOB! And it was not one in the morning...it was like 11:45!
    "And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force."

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    I wouldn't let your Mother confront them. I would call the Police at every opportunity. A guy moved across the street from us a couple years back and caused a similar issue. I tried talking to him and got no where.We aren't talking about music on the weekend but this guy would blast music at 3:00 AM every night/morning. So when he violated a noise ordinance I called the police and complained. He eventually got the message. If you can get neighbors to also complain it helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chasfh View Post

    The best option I can see for you here, if you're so motivated, is to get really smart about the municipal code in their town and call in as many violations you see them commit as you can. If they party loudly past curfew, call it in. If they keep open garbage on their lawn or violate other aestethic municipal codes, call it in. Encourage the other neighbors to do the same. It might not result in the resolution you want, but there's a better chance it will than just sitting there unhappy and unable to ignore or confront them.

    Best of luck to you and your folks on this.

    the key is to build an authenticated record, then if they do cross the line to anything that is arguably harassment, battery, or denial of right to enjoy their own habitation, contact a lawyer. If they are upper class the threat of a lawsuit will probably be more effective than any personal intervention! Its the kind of thing that might make THEM move.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gehringer_2 View Post
    the key is to build an authenticated record, then if they do cross the line to anything that is arguably harassment, battery, or denial of right to enjoy their own habitation, contact a lawyer. If they are upper class the threat of a lawsuit will probably be more effective than any personal intervention! Its the kind of thing that might make THEM move.

    Doesn't even really need to be a lawsuit, just making it public could be enough. Large companies do not like this kind of publicity from their "higher ups."
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    Go to the police. Solicit the neighbors to do the same. Get it documented. Focus on the noise and disturbances, mention the racial thing too but don't let that be the one that drives it.

    I'm active in my community and that's the best way. Do not confront them personally. That only opens the door up for them to directly harass you, meaning eggs, rocks, slashing tires, etc. all of which cannot be proven.

    Then I would contact the mayor and a member or two of city council. Is there a neighborhood association? Go to a meeting. Ours often has reps from the city and when you ask in public they will want to make it look like they are doing something in front of everybody else. Keep the question generic in public, don't say "That hosue over there....." If they are as bad as you say then I'd guess others will know who you are talking about.

    I've learned over the last few years after I got involved in a couple of issues here in Dearborn that at the local level a few people can make a big difference.

    If that doesn't work, consider finding out where the guy works and send an anonymous letter there.... and send one to him so he knows it was sent. All the while your parents should keep their mouths shut in front of them. Appear to take the high road but do the work behind the scenes. They'll get the message.
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    Sounds to me like some AA literature placed anonymously on the windshield of his car might be in order

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    Doesn't even really need to be a lawsuit, just making it public could be enough. Large companies do not like this kind of publicity from their "higher ups."
    That was my thought. If you have access to a camera, maybe some youtube videos might be in order? Another possibility if you can get anything on video would be to contact a local media outlet. I can imagine this would make for an interesting story for them: Neighborhood harassed by racists white wealthy individual. I'm not trying to make a political statement out of this, but you have to admit that that would be a good hot button issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRamage View Post
    That was my thought. If you have access to a camera, maybe some youtube videos might be in order? Another possibility if you can get anything on video would be to contact a local media outlet. I can imagine this would make for an interesting story for them: Neighborhood harassed by racists white wealthy individual. I'm not trying to make a political statement out of this, but you have to admit that that would be a good hot button issue.
    This thread brings up a really good question, and a story examining it would be a good read. Its hard to think that a local journalist wouldn't want to write a story like that. Even a college newspaper would work with everything being online.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRamage View Post
    That was my thought. If you have access to a camera, maybe some youtube videos might be in order? Another possibility if you can get anything on video would be to contact a local media outlet. I can imagine this would make for an interesting story for them: Neighborhood harassed by racists white wealthy individual. I'm not trying to make a political statement out of this, but you have to admit that that would be a good hot button issue.
    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    This thread brings up a really good question, and a story examining it would be a good read. Its hard to think that a local journalist wouldn't want to write a story like that. Even a college newspaper would work with everything being online.
    I'm by no means an expert on this... but would there be a legal risk by doing either of these things? Honest question.

    It would make for a good short story/novel/film though, if somebody needed to do a kind of project. That 'any resemblance to real persons is coincidence' would be very useful.

    I think JBK and Oblong have made some very good suggestions, and that's a good place to start.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lousluggage View Post
    I'm by no means an expert on this... but would there be a legal risk by doing either of these things? Honest question.

    It would make for a good short story/novel/film though, if somebody needed to do a kind of project. That 'any resemblance to real persons is coincidence' would be very useful.

    I think JBK and Oblong have made some very good suggestions, and that's a good place to start.
    A journalist could write it based on the accounts of people who wish to remain anonymous. If the accounts are truthful, it wouldn't be libel.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lousluggage View Post
    I'm by no means an expert on this... but would there be a legal risk by doing either of these things? Honest question.
    That's a legit question, and I don't know for sure. I would think that any video taping you did outside would be legal. Ie, not pointing it in windows or trying to spy. I guess there's a question depending on fences. If there are tall fences and you have "peek" over there, that might be an issue. But if you're just taping in your own backyard and the neighbors happen to be in the background (either via sound only or video and sound) I don't think that would be illegal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRamage View Post
    That's a legit question, and I don't know for sure. I would think that any video taping you did outside would be legal. Ie, not pointing it in windows or trying to spy. I guess there's a question depending on fences. If there are tall fences and you have "peek" over there, that might be an issue. But if you're just taping in your own backyard and the neighbors happen to be in the background (either via sound only or video and sound) I don't think that would be illegal.
    I was responding to the idea of a paper article, not video taping. If you can hear him from neighboring property, I think it would be hard for him to argue that he had an expectation of privacy. As a matter of fact, if you couldn't hear him from off his property, there really wouldn't be an issue here, would there. My concern with a youtube vid would be that the camera angle would make it hard to remain anonymous.
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    YOu really don't want to do anything to them that could be considered harassment, even confronting them, or placing things on their cars, or videotaping them. By doing that you lose the high ground and the city and police will likely think you both are wacked out and ignore your complaints. Don't give them anything to use against you. No phone calls. And don't go to the media.
    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    A journalist could write it based on the accounts of people who wish to remain anonymous. If the accounts are truthful, it wouldn't be libel.
    Quote Originally Posted by RedRamage View Post
    That's a legit question, and I don't know for sure. I would think that any video taping you did outside would be legal. Ie, not pointing it in windows or trying to spy. I guess there's a question depending on fences. If there are tall fences and you have "peek" over there, that might be an issue. But if you're just taping in your own backyard and the neighbors happen to be in the background (either via sound only or video and sound) I don't think that would be illegal.
    Thanks... I'd still be careful. I'd probably be following Oblong's advice, though:

    Quote Originally Posted by Oblong View Post
    YOu really don't want to do anything to them that could be considered harassment, even confronting them, or placing things on their cars, or videotaping them. By doing that you lose the high ground and the city and police will likely think you both are wacked out and ignore your complaints. Don't give them anything to use against you. No phone calls. And don't go to the media.
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    I just want to thank everybody for the advice. There are some very insightful and well thought-out ideas. I might even forward this thread to my parents...
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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeynuts View Post
    I actually don't know how that constitutionally sits. Could you sit on your property and just start randomly chanting the n-word over and over? That has to at least violate some local ordinaince...distrubing the peace?
    Like it or not, they are protected by the first amendment and can say whatever they like unless they are endangering someone by their speech. But I know your stated stance on the constitution, and that you don't care if you are infringing on someone's rights, as long as everyone conforms to your political will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballmich View Post
    Like it or not, they are protected by the first amendment and can say whatever they like unless they are endangering someone by their speech. But I know your stated stance on the constitution, and that you don't care if you are infringing on someone's rights, as long as everyone conforms to your political will.
    You didn't have to go there man. I have had some back and forth with Monkeynuts as well, but he was being pretty civil in this thread. I disagree with just about everything he writes politically, but again he is just looking for advice here.
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    There is a couple of duplexes across the street from my office and each of them has a small front porch. Two years ago one of them had a Nazi flag flying prominently on said front porch. In fact, they had a rotation of flags with swastikas or "white power" on them but the red flag with a swastika in the middle of a white circle was the mainstay.

    They eventually were evicted legally for non-payment of rent but there were some interesting events going on over there that I witnessed first hand.

    Most notably was the day that the two black contractors that the landlord hired to perform some exterior maintenance showed up; it took about 5 minutes before the street was flooded with police cars.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballmich View Post
    Like it or not, they are protected by the first amendment and can say whatever they like unless they are endangering someone by their speech. But I know your stated stance on the constitution, and that you don't care if you are infringing on someone's rights, as long as everyone conforms to your political will.
    Very much out of line here ballmich. We've had a number of people from all different political areas discussing this issue without it becoming political. There is no reason what so ever for you to drop in here and make this comment. Unacceptable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeynuts View Post
    No, not at all. My parents live in a wealthy neighborhood and the man is very high up at a financial firm.
    Most employers have a code of conduct that extends outside of work, but particularly financial institutions. I'll leave it up to you on what to do with this, but you don't have to be too creative to come up with a solution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oblong View Post
    Go to the police. Solicit the neighbors to do the same. Get it documented. Focus on the noise and disturbances, mention the racial thing too but don't let that be the one that drives it.

    I'm active in my community and that's the best way. Do not confront them personally. That only opens the door up for them to directly harass you, meaning eggs, rocks, slashing tires, etc. all of which cannot be proven.

    Then I would contact the mayor and a member or two of city council. Is there a neighborhood association? Go to a meeting. Ours often has reps from the city and when you ask in public they will want to make it look like they are doing something in front of everybody else. Keep the question generic in public, don't say "That hosue over there....." If they are as bad as you say then I'd guess others will know who you are talking about.

    I've learned over the last few years after I got involved in a couple of issues here in Dearborn that at the local level a few people can make a big difference.

    If that doesn't work, consider finding out where the guy works and send an anonymous letter there.... and send one to him so he knows it was sent. All the while your parents should keep their mouths shut in front of them. Appear to take the high road but do the work behind the scenes. They'll get the message.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oblong View Post
    YOu really don't want to do anything to them that could be considered harassment, even confronting them, or placing things on their cars, or videotaping them. By doing that you lose the high ground and the city and police will likely think you both are wacked out and ignore your complaints. Don't give them anything to use against you. No phone calls. And don't go to the media.
    Solid advice, man.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballmich View Post
    they are protected by the first amendment and can say whatever they like unless they are endangering someone by their speech. But I know your stated stance on the constitution, and that you don't care if you are infringing on someone's rights, as long as everyone conforms to your political will.
    Defamation, intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress. Couple examples of prohibited speech that does not endanger another.

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    As your folks appear to have a few bucks they can spend, i'd go with installing a monitor pointed towards the neighbor, with this looped:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Biff Mayhem View Post
    Most notably was the day that the two black contractors that the landlord hired to perform some exterior maintenance showed up; it took about 5 minutes before the street was flooded with police cars.
    This was around 1984. There was a serial killer that attacked a couple about 1/4 of a mile from our house Alton Coleman. While he was still on the loose they showed his picture on the news and said he was driving a white van. I remember the jeri curls. Some friends of ours were moving. We were around the ages of 8-12, our group of friends. Remember, this is 1984... being home alone wasn't as big of a deal back then due to close proximity with our families. So, cable guy comes to the house of the friends who are moving to take away the equipment. Who shows up? Yep... a black guy in a white van with jeri curls.....

    5 kids between 8-12 come storming out of the house with baseball bats, knives, whatever we can imagine... cops were called, parents were called at work... quite the scene.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oblong View Post
    YOu really don't want to do anything to them that could be considered harassment, even confronting them, or placing things on their cars, or videotaping them. By doing that you lose the high ground and the city and police will likely think you both are wacked out and ignore your complaints. Don't give them anything to use against you. No phone calls. And don't go to the media.
    Thanks, Oblong. I really like this line of thinking - especially with your past experience.

    We definitely won't touch the media. I also have no desire for my mom to confront this guy...he's a known hot head and I don't want to risk anything in that regard. I'm going to once again recommend to them to reach out to the police today or tomorrow, which they were hesitant to do initially. I also have no idea if any other neighbors heard the slur so they would have to check around to see who heard it (or, for that matter, if he has yelled it before that people have heard).
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