NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A sign placed on a garage on Roanoke Avenue is stirring up controversy.
The sign, set back from the road, serves as an apparent warning to trespassers, which it calls out by name using racial slurs. It also takes aim at Newport News police, which are referred to on the sign as “pigs.”
“I think it’s awful. There’s a school bus stop right there. Children get on the bus all the time,” said neighbor Keri Whitbeck.
In fact, a mother contacted 10 On Your Side after her son saw the sign this morning on his way to the bus stop.
“Parents having to explain something so terrible as this to their kids is unfortunate,” said the mother, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation.
This is not the first time 10 On Your Side has received complaints about the home. In 2015, we reported when there was a sign that read “no trespassing – or blacks.” The man who made it told WAVY News then that it was not intended to be racist.
But the mother who spoke to 10 On Your Side feels the situation is escalating.
“His choice in words is a little more offensive. It’s too strong. It shouldn’t even be hanging there,” she said.
The sign specifically addresses trespassing.
Parents say children walk on front lawns as a means to get to the school bus stop. There are no sidewalks on Roanoke Avenue.
According to police, officers have been called to the home four times in the last month — twice for a call about a suspicious person and two nuisance calls.
A young man says he was recently confronted by the homeowner when he walked by.
“He said, ‘I don’t want you all [expletive] on my lawn or none of that,'” Treyvonne Jarret said.
10 On Your Side tried to talk to the homeowner, but he did not come to the door when we knocked. However moments later, police arrived, saying they got a call about us.
And while the man has a constitutionally protected right to free speech, some parents say they’re worried for the safety of their children walking to the bus stop.
“Them having to walk across his grass… When is he going to be mad and come out and do something about it to someone’s child?” the mother asked.
A police officer who responded to the house to investigate a complaint about the sign said he would speak to the school board about the possibility of moving the bus stop. But the mother said it shouldn’t have to come to that.