Black woman in New York claims years of racial harassment by neighbors

Janelle Griffith and Ben Kesslen
·5 min read

Police on Long Island, New York, are investigating a Black resident's allegations that she has been racially harassed by neighbors for about three years, with feces and dead squirrels thrown in her yard. At least some of these allegations appear to have been part of a court claim by the resident that resulted in a judgment.

Jennifer McLeggan, a registered nurse and mother who lives in Valley Stream, just east of New York City, says she fears for her life and that of her small child because of the harassment, according to NBC New York.

McLeggan alleges that neighbors have left dead squirrels and human feces on her yard and told her to go back to where she came from, NBC New York reports.

Surveillance video from McLeggan's home that was obtained by NBC New York appears to show a white male with a gun. It is unclear who the man is, but according to police comments Tuesday the gun may have been a pellet gun.

In a written note that is several feet long and covers most of McLeggan's front door, she says, “I took video footage to court and won a $5000 judgment from my videos” of the harassment.

“They have their friends come spit on my property and it was recorded,” McLeggan wrote. “A blow torch was taken to my home at 3am. They have said I can be ‘erased.’”

It is not clear why McLeggan is claiming that the alleged harassment is racially motivated.

Attempts to reach McLeggan by phone Tuesday were unsuccessful, and there was no option to leave a voicemail.

Court records show McLeggan won a judgment in small claims court against Mindy Canarick in 2019. A court official told NBC News on Tuesday the judgment was in the amount of $5,036.24.

Nassau County police told NBC News early Tuesday they were investigating McLeggan's allegations.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, the county's police commissioner, Patrick Ryder, did not name McLeggan but referred to her as the complainant.

He said she has been in a dispute with neighbors, the McEneaney family — Michael McEneaney, 82, his son John, 57, and his girlfriend, Canarick, 53, since 2017 when McLeggan moved into her residence.

Canarick could not immediately be reached Tuesday at numbers listed for her.

Phone calls to people with the last name of McEneaney listed at the same address as Canarick also were not answered Tuesday.

Ryder said at the news conference that since 2017, police have received close to 50 calls from both McLeggan and the neighboring McEneaney family, divided "almost equally.”

All of the complaints to police were unfounded, Ryder said.

Police went to McLeggan’s home recently in response to a report made through social media of a sign that was placed on her door, the commissioner said.

Police took a statement from McLeggan and the elder McEneaney, Ryder said, adding that police have not spoken to John McEneaney because he is no longer staying at his father's home out of concern for his safety.

Ryder said two pellet guns — a rifle and a handgun — were found at the McEneaney residence and they have been used to shoot at targets in the home's backyard.

“There were allegations that they had shot squirrels,” Ryder said of the McEneaneys. “There have been neighbors that have found dead squirrels in their yards.”

He added, “We’re investigating if they have been shot by the BB guns by the McEneaney family.”

As for reports of feces being thrown on McLeggan’s property, Ryder said, in apparent reference to the 2019 matter that resulted in a judgment: “The act of the feces being thrown across the fence. There was already a civil complaint made. A civil settlement made to our victim. That’s already done. It’s in the past.”

He said the dispute between the neighbors “has gotten a little out of control” and that there had been an attempt to light a blow torch in a backyard at 3 a.m. one morning. He said police plan to speak to John McEneaney about that incident.

Ryder said that the elder McEneaney has said he is not looking for a problem with and has no bias against his neighbor.

“At this time, we do not have any evidence of any bias," Ryder said. "But that does not mean that it is not there. We have more work to do. We want to get out in front of this."

The commissioner added that while there is no current evidence of criminality by either side, the investigation is ongoing. "Neither one of these neighbors are moving from their home," Ryder said. "So, the problem is not going to go away unless we address it."

Also at Tuesday's news conference was Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who reiterated statements she made Monday. "Here in Nassau County, hate crimes and bigotry have absolutely no place," she said.

Valley Stream has a population that is 41.8 percent white and 27.6 percent Black, according to the most recent census data.

McLeggan's claims have been posted on an Instagram account with the user name standwithjennifer that has more than 12,000 followers.

Posts on social media about McLeggan's allegations have drawn the attention of public officials.

State Assemblywoman Michaëlle Solages, who represents part of the county, said on Twitter: "Thank you to everyone who reached out regarding the harassment of #ValleyStream homeowner. We reached out to her. We are calling for full investigation."

A protest is planned for Thursday at 5 p.m. in Valley Stream in support of McLeggan, social media posts show.