Update (August 17, 2020): The couple behind the alleged years-long harassment and abuse of a Long Island woman have finally been arrested and charged by the Nassau County district attorney, according to New York Daily News.
Jennifer McLeggan, a Black nurse, moved into her home three years ago and says her neighbors, John McEneaney and his father Michael McEneaney, began a campaign of terror against her. She said the two repeatedly threw dog feces and mutilated squirrels on her lawn while threatening her with racial barbs.
McLeggan filed dozens of complaints but was largely ignored by police until her story blew up on social media last month due to a photo of a note she has posted on her window.
On Monday, the Nassau County District Attorney's Office said John had been charged with criminal mischief and harassment and that his partner, Mindy Canarick, was hit with a criminal tampering charge.
A group of Black men began taking watch outside McLeggan’s home after Nassau County Police Commissioner Pat Ryder said police did “not have any evidence of any bias” and that the department would continue to look into the matter.
“There’s been an ongoing dispute between neighbors since 2017 when our … victim moved into the residence. There’s been close to 50 calls to services between the two almost equally, complaints back and forth that have been at that residence that we have responded to as law enforcement. There have been no founded complaints since we have been responding to these 45 to 50 calls,” Ryder said on July 14.
But the story gained so much traction that New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages got involved with the case, demanding answers about why the obvious attacks on McLeggan were being allowed to continue.
“The aggression of the neighbor, (it) went on too long. For years she felt unsafe coming to a place she was supposed to feel safe at, coming home. But it’s more representative of the overall state of the poor relationship between the police and the Black community here on Long Island,” said McLeggan’s lawyer Heather Palmore on Monday.
“The Nassau County District Attorney has been very professional in handling this matter, they gave Jennifer a forum to bring her complaints forward. The police have been to Jennifer’s house I can’t tell you how many times over the last three years and nothing was done by the police county department,” Palmore added.
The couple was scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon.
Original (July 21, 2020): After hearing a Black mom on Long Island was being harassed by her neighbors, Black men have been providing security for her overnight to ensure her safety. One of them told Blavity they had "nothing but time" to protect Jennifer McLeggan.
McLeggan moved into her Valley Stream home nearly three years ago and has been receiving threats from her white neighbors ever since.
“I feel like I’m terrorized. It’s a nightmare living next to him,” McLeggan told CBS New York.
She said the men, a father and son duo, have thrown feces over the fence, left dead animals on her property, spit on her yard, taken a blow torch to her home and have told her they want her to go back to where she came from.
PLEASE God. Please protect my daughter and I from this man. He is the man who comes and spits on my property and has said on camera that he will get my cameras taken down. I have seen him drive past my house and he frightens me. I am scared that he will kick my door down. HELP???? pic.twitter.com/Ud1DbW2nBo
— Jennifer (@Immaculates_Mom) July 15, 2020
When McLeggan, a registered nurse, was fined by the city for having feces in her yard, she took surveillance footage she had collected showing it came from her neighbors and received a $5,000 judgment, according to NBC 4.
The court decision didn’t put a stop to the harassment, though.
“If I get a dead squirrel, that’s a sign to me. It means you want me dead,” McLeggan said.
The men have continued their intimidation, despite her efforts to integrate into the community. McLeggan, a single mother of one, said that when she first moved in the property was not maintained. Pregnant at the time, McLeggan said she spent time mowing the lawn and put about $6,000 into cutting down trees, all while she was working full-time, she told WABC.
Because of the continued provocation and the lack of assistance from the local police department, McLeggan put a message on her front door, detailing her experience.
“My S.O.S. if you will. And I said, look, this is what’s happening to me here. If I’m dead in here, there’s a baby inside,” she said about the sign.
This is so WRONG!! Jennifer McLeggan, a NY nurse and single mom, is the target of ongoing threats and racist harassment by her neighbor. He throws feces, dead squirrels, and trash in her yard, says she can be “erased,” etc. Ms. McLeggan, you should not have to put up with this!! pic.twitter.com/TZX0myeB7h
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) July 14, 2020
McLeggan said she has been denied help from the police department, which informed her a crime must be committed in order for officers to intervene.
“He has said he can get me erased. I’ve heard him say I don’t know who he knows, I can get eliminated,” she said.
When pictures of the long, receipt-like, yellow sign posted on her front door went viral, Black men in the area took notice and took action.
"My neighbors have been racially harassing me since I purchased my home," the note reads in part. "They have said I can be ‘erased.’ … I live in FEAR for my life at home.”
"They have their friends come spit on my property and it was recorded," it also adds.
— F.L.O.W. ???????? (@flow349) July 12, 2020
Anthony Herron Jr., a 30-year-old Black man from Queens, immediately reached out to McLeggan to see how he could help. During their conversation, she only asked for prayers, but Herron believed he could do more.
“I didn’t feel comfortable with that. I'm religious as well, but we don’t know what can happen. I take threats to Black women very seriously,” Herron told Blavity on Wednesday.
Herron offered to sit outside her house to guarantee that her neighbors would not harm her or her property.
The first day Herron sat patrol, he had left work early after hearing that McLeggan’s address was being widely spread on the internet, worried that it would put her in harm's way.
“I left my job. I took a full hour lunch break, and I just stood out there because I was one of the people promoting the story and I thought that if anything happened with us spreading awareness, that blood is on my hands,” Herron said.
Herron, who lives about 15 minutes away from McLeggan, returned that night after clocking out of work.
“I came back and was just like ‘yeah this is what I’m going to do.’ I don’t know what else to do,” he said. “I’m just going to be present, be here.”
Shift done. Protect black women. pic.twitter.com/mwE512eB7a
— F.L.O.W. ???????? (@flow349) July 15, 2020
While there is a GoFundMe campaign to help McLeggan and her daughter, Herron said he didn’t want to do the bare minimum and would rather do all he can in his power to make sure they are safe.
“I always ask people, ‘we got to stop doing the bare minimum,'” he said. “Even with Black Lives Matter, matter is the minimum…I don’t feel good about that, you don’t get a pat on the back for that. What’s the next move? You got to strategize, mobilize, organize.”
The first night he was there, Herron said someone began following him when he got out of his car to walk around and stretch his legs. He now does live broadcasts on Periscope throughout the night to have evidence in case something happens.
A few of Herron’s friends have joined him in safeguarding McLeggan’s home. He said his friends didn’t want him out there by himself in case he got hurt, so they “just started to arrive.”
Watching over our Sister, Enough is enough! https://t.co/CcPvZ96eR0
— Lawrence A Tinsley???????? FBA (@LawrenceATinsl1) July 15, 2020
He and the other men who have joined him sit out there for as long as possible, ideally, he said, until the sun comes up. McLeggan said some of the harassment has happened in the early hours of the morning. Cars are stationed outside of her house regularly.
“I can feel a little bit better knowing that the sun is up and if something happens, it’s in broad daylight,” Herron said.
6PM-6AM shift over. Day 4. Protect Black Women. pic.twitter.com/sm4y5LtdMH
— F.L.O.W. ???????? (@flow349) July 16, 2020
It's safe to say McLeggan is more than touched by Herron and the other men's efforts to protect her.
"These are men who have jobs. Men who are dealing with COVID just like were dealing with COVID," she said. "But they took time to make sure my baby and I are safe."
She praised Herron, who also goes by the nickname Flow, in particular.
"Flow has really stepped up to the plate," McLeggan said. "He is a really good man and I don't even know him from yard. He doesn't ask for anything. He doesn't even take a cup of water for me."
McLeggan, 39, extended these praises to younger generations.
"They can't say these kids are not trying and not strong and not smart," she said. "They're not having it anymore. They're not the people of yesterday. They're with the s**ts."
While Herron and the other men have done their part in supporting McLeggan, New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages stood up for her in a different way.
Solages had seen the online postings and received phone calls regarding the situation from constituents. She said her office wasn’t directly notified by McLeggan but said as soon as she was informed on Saturday night, she reached out to McLeggan.
Solages said she immediately contacted the police department because she believes McLeggan needed protection and support. She asked the department to investigate.
“I wanted to ensure that she was at least able to file a police report, that the department fully investigated and then be there for her if she needs further support,” Solages told Blavity.
According to the Nassau Police Department, officers have responded to 45 complaints regarding McLeggan and her neighbors.
“To me, that’s a travesty, and my office is looking into seeing if we can draft legislation to make sure that victims like her are heard,” Solages said. “It’s ludicrous that you need to essentially be harmed in order to get redress.”
The state legislator is looking into why the complaints weren’t taken seriously as well as why McLeggan was initially fined for the dead squirrel.
“This shook me to the core and I would move heaven and earth to make sure that this is fully investigated, and if wrongdoing has occurred there needs to be consequences. We can not accept hate in our community, we can not accept harassment of women in our community,” she said.
Thank you to everyone who reached out regarding the harassment of #ValleyStream homeowner. We reached out to her. We are calling for full investigation.
— Michaëlle Solages (@MichaelleSolage) July 12, 2020
Solages said that she was told there was police protection for McLeggan, but Herron said the only time he saw a police car was when he got up to walk around the first night. Solages said the civilians guarding McLeggan’s house are model citizens.
“These individuals who are staying outside and ensuring that this woman, a single mother who was harassed, is being protected and I think that is what the model citizen should be doing,” she said. “When we think about what is community, these individuals are the definition of what is a community.”
The police department said it is looking into this matter.
“At this time, we do not have any evidence of any bias, but that does not mean that it is not there. We have more work to do. But we want to get out in front of this,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said, reports WABC.
Herron said that he and McLeggan speak every day and “it’s always been love.” He said she often expresses her appreciation for what he’s doing.
Herron, who has been monitoring McLeggan’s house since Sunday, said he will sit out there every night until her neighbor is either in handcuffs or moves.
“I got nothing but time,” he said.