NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A New Hanover County neighborhood is rallying around a family who received a racist and threatening letter in the mail. The anonymous letter informed the Zambranos they needed to take down the Mexican flag flying in front of their home.
“When mother f*#@ers like you fly your piece of s*&t Mexican flag, that means war. The 2nd Amendment gives the the [sic] right AND DUTY (with guns) to rid my country of people like you and your family. TAKE THE F*#@ING FLAG DOWN OR FEEL MY WRATH,” the letter demanded.
Jessica Zambrano, a mother of four young children, was rattled, and called the sheriff’s department. She has an American flag flying alongside the Mexican flag, which have been on display since July.
"I’m American. I was born in Hawaii, raised in North Carolina. And my husband is from Mexico. He moved here when he was around 20. And he is a naturalized citizen now. So we are a Mexican-American family. I just really want my children to know where they come from, what they are, and just to be proud of who they are. And to celebrate both sides of their family,” Zambrano explained.
After a few days of fearing for her family’s safety after receiving the letter, and considering taking the flag down, Zambrano decided she wasn’t going to to let hate win. She left the flag up. As neighbors learned of the menacing letter the Zambranos had received, several white neighbors bought Mexican flags of their own and began flying them in solidarity.
"That made us feel very, very loved and very welcomed,” Zambrano said.
“I’m a white male. And there’s a lot of current events that don’t seem to affect me personally," Kevin Millard said of his decision to fly a Mexican flag in support of the Zambranos. “And it’s just kind of one of those attitudes that it doesn’t affect you until it affects you. And so that that letter really brought it home for me that, that the issue of racism is not just an issue that’s on the news, in Minneapolis or wherever it is. But it’s something that’s local, it’s across the street for me.”
His wife Lauren, also a mother of four children who spend much of their time playing with the Zambrano kids across the street, said it was an easy decision.
“Any opportunity you get to exercise loving your neighbor is an opportunity you should act upon,” she said.
Amazed by the show of support, Zambrano posted a message of thanks to her neighbors on Facebook. The message is going viral, with hundreds of others standing with her from far outside the boundaries of her neighborhood.
"It was kind of overwhelming. I didn’t expect it to, you know, grow that much. But I think that there’s a lot of people that just want to stand up for what’s right, and they read my story, and felt like, you know, this is close to home, and we need to support our fellow people,” Zambrano said.
The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department is investigating this case, and if they can track down the sender of that letter, the author could face charges for communicating threats and possibly commission of a hate crime.
The Zambranos expressed their gratitude to deputies for their quick response after the letter was received, and their continued patrols of the neighborhood to insure their safety.