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Black Man Quickly Decides to Move Family Out of a White Neighborhood After Getting Racist Letter, Harassed by Police

Chris Sullivan said he felt targeted by police because of his skin color. (Photo courtesy of Chris Sullivan)

Presented with the chance for a better job, an Indianapolis native thought it a good idea to move his San Diego family back to his home state of Indiana. Things turned sour, however, as locals in their new, predominately white neighborhood made it clear that they were not welcome there.

Chris Sullivan and his family settled in the Briton Ridge subdivision in Fishers, Ind., earlier this year after spending weeks searching for a place that was somewhat close to both his retired parents and his new job as a construction manager, the Indianapolis Star reported. Despite some instinctive inklings about how comfortable it’d be for an Black family to stay in the well-to-do suburb, Sullivan made the community his new home.

“Growing up in Indiana, you hear rumors about places where Blacks aren’t welcomed’,” Sullivan, 29, told the newspaper.

The father of two initially thought his fears were misplaced, but they were soon confirmed after a someone placed a racially charged letter in his mailbox July 5. In it, the anonymous author accused Sullivan of making the neighborhood look like a “ghetto” because the grass in his backyard was uncut.

“So what do you think people think about you and your family?” the letter continued. “If you can’t take care of your property than (sic) maybe you should think about moving into an apartment.”

The Indianapolis Star reported that the signature on the letter suggested it was from the homeowner’s association, but a representative from the HOA confirmed that no one there had sent it.

Sullivan said he was taken aback by the incident. By that time, he and his family had only been in the home for two months.

“I felt like I was going back in time,” he said. “I couldn’t believe this was still going on in 2017.”

An equally upsetting incident occurred less than three weeks later, when Sullivan claims he was targeted by Fishers police because of his skin color. The Indianapolis man said officers searched and questioned him at his front door while responding to a domestic disturbance call involving a man and a woman at a residence across the street.

The 911 caller described the suspect as white, however.

“I asked if there was a problem and [the officer] said, ‘We’ll see,’ ” Sullivan told the Indy Star of the July 24 encounter. “He started asking me who the owner of the house was … what was I doing there, who lived in the house?”

Sullivan told police that he lived there with his wife and kids who hadn’t gotten home yet, after which officers patted him down and asked him to call his wife to “prove that she was okay.” He said police also asked to see his ID, but one of the officers gestured toward his gun when he reached in his bag to retrieve it. Sullivan said he immediately dropped the bag and put his hands in the air.

It was that “exasperating” experience that convinced him to pack his bags. He and his family are slated to move into a subdivision on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

“I said, ‘That’s it. I’m out of Fishers’,” Sullivan told the newspaper.  “I’m more annoyed than angry.”

Officials with the Fishers PD said the officers’ response to the 911 call was handled appropriately.

Spokesman Shawn Wynn said the police were dealing with very little information about an allegedly abusive man who might be armed was reported to be outside the house. Police said Sullivan was stopped and questioned as a precaution because he was the only person standing outside at the time.

Still, the authorities’ reasoning left Sullivan concerned.

“It’s not a very diverse community,” he said. “Maybe they don’t have a lot of experience dealing with people of color.”

The neighbor and woman who were the sources of the domestic call talked with police for about two minutes before being ordered to spend the night apart, according to the Indy Star. No one was arrested.

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