A Black mother in Virginia is publicly sharing that a neighbor has for years been blasting recordings of monkeys, banjos and racial slurs when her family leaves the house, but police say there’s nothing they can do to stop it.
“Whenever we would step out of our house, the monkey noises would start,” Jannique Martinez of Virginia Beach told local station WAVY last week. “And it’s so racist and it’s disgusting.”
Martinez moved into the neighborhood five years ago, and the audio recordings, which seem to be triggered by motion sensors, started about a year and a half later, she told CNN on Thursday.
Martinez’s family isn’t the only one subjected to the noises; the sound that plays depends on the who is leaving which residence, she said. One audio clip Martinez shared on Facebook last week features recording with monkey sounds, banjo music and a man repeatedly using the N-word.
“Everyone wave to the n***a guy. Say, hi, n***a guy!” a man’s voice says. The audio appears to have been taken from an episode of “South Park.”
“My son is terrified of [the neighbor]. Terrified, terrified,” Martinez told WAVY of her youngest child’s reaction. “The N-word situation … They came to me and said, ‘Mom, what’s that?’ I didn’t subject my kids to that. I didn’t think they would ever have to learn what this means.”
Martinez told CNN that she confronted the neighbor about the recordings last year and asked him to turn the noise down; he said he was doing nothing wrong.
The Virginia Beach Police Department confirmed in a statement that it has responded to several calls to the house where the noise is coming from due to “nuisance/loud music complaints,” but there isn’t anything they can do.
“As appalling and offensive as the neighbors’ behavior 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,” the police department said.
It added that it will closely monitor the situation and “within the limits of the law, help this family with this most unpleasant situation.”
HuffPost’s attempts to reach Martinez and her neighbor for comment on Thursday were not immediately successful.