‘This is a white neighbourhood’: Woman uses n-word in racist note targeting black child and his family, police say

Accused neighbour says child would cause her stress and was 'not welcome' in community

Lindsey Bever
Wednesday 31 October 2018 16:49 GMT
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Police suspected 63-year-old Deborah Cantwell after the home's seller said she objected to the new family moving to the area
Police suspected 63-year-old Deborah Cantwell after the home's seller said she objected to the new family moving to the area (Howard County Sheriff's Office)

A woman from Indiana has been accused of writing a racist note targeting a black child who was moving into a new neighbourhood with his family, using a racial slur and telling them: ”THIS IS A WHITE NEIGHBORHOOD”.

Authorities said 63-year-old Deborah Cantwell, who is white, penned the letter and placed it on the new neighbours’ front door this month near Greentown, Indiana.

It warned the parents that one of their children, who authorities said is black, was “not welcome” in the community, according to court documents. It is unclear whether his parents are also black; police declined to comment further.

A photo posted on GoFundMe, which appears to show the letter, revealed that a racial slur was used to describe the child.

“We moved here to a WHITE TOWN, ALL WHITE NEIGHBORHOOD – FOR HEALTH REASONS AMONG OTHER THINGS. THIS IS OUR FOREVER HOME, WE CANNOT AFFORD TO MOVE – BESIDES THIS IS MY DREAM HOME AND WE HAVE BEEN HERE FOR A VERY LONG TIME,” it read. It added that the family “SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED THE NEIGHBORS” before bringing the child into the area.

The alleged letter posted on Amy Howell Pundt’s fundraising page (Amy Howell Pundt - GoFundMe) (Amy Howell Pundt, GoFundMe)

The letter continued, stating “just the sight of the child reminds me of all the things I live in this town to forget”.

Authorities have not confirmed whether the photo shows the letter, but the text matches quotes found in the court records.

Ms Cantwell was arrested late last week on charges of intimidation and criminal mischief. She has since been released on bond.

Officials with the Howard County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that deputies responded to the family’s new home on 13 October about a letter found on the front door leading up to their move-in date.

“The letter contained erroneous information concerning the property and also made derogatory racial comments towards a juvenile family member,” according to the statement.

Court records show a family member told authorities his family had not yet moved into the house but he had stopped by the home about midnight and discovered the trees had been toilet-papered.

The “lengthy note” was attached to the door.

In her letter, Ms Cantwell said she has had “negative” experiences with black people and seeing the child would cause stress.

She urged them not to move into the house.

Ms Cantwell wrote in the letter “YOU CAN SELL YOUR HOUSE AND MAKE MONEY ON IT RIGHT NOW,” and added, “BY THE WAY HOPE YOU HAVE DEEP POCKETS,” according to the court records.

Authorities suspected Ms Cantwell after the home’s seller said Ms Cantwell did not want the new family to buy the home, the records said.

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When investigators questioned Ms Cantwell on 18 October, she admitted that she had written the letter because she was angry, suggesting that, throughout the years, black people held her father at gunpoint, stabbed an uncle and beat her sister.

Ms Cantwell told police she delivered the note and toilet-papered the house out of “rage” and said “I was trying to vent,” according to court documents.

When asked whether she regretted her actions, Ms Cantwell told police, “yes and no”.

“I am sorry that it caused so much ruckus, but I feel like I released some anger writing that letter,” she said, according to the court documents. She added that had she received such a letter, “I’d want to get out of the neighbourhood”.

It is unclear whether Ms Cantwell has an attorney. She is due in court 19 November.

The Washington Post

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