NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – After racist signs were found in the front yards of Yulee homes last week, Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper responding on Facebook, saying that “hateful and racially related” acts will not be tolerated in the county.
“Over the past couple of months, the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office has responded to some hateful and racially related calls for police service within our community,” Leeper said in a video posted on Facebook on Monday morning. “These incidences have been documented and investigated. Although no crime has been determined to have been committed yet in these instances, we will not tolerate racism in our county.”
The comments came after two racially motivated incidents in the county since July.
According to a report from the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 27, a Yulee woman told investigators that a man drove by her home and threw signs into her yard and the yard of her neighbor.
When she looked at the signs, she found they included hate speech against African Americans, according to the report.
“Black lives matter only when they are dead,” the sign read. “Black on black crime is a beautiful thing.”
The man was later identified and admitted to deputies that he made the signs “out of spite.” He said he would apologize to the woman and her family and said it would never happen again.
(Editor’s Note: News4Jax is not naming the man because investigators found that no crime had been committed and the woman declined to press charges.)
Investigators noted that the complainant had a Joe Biden political sign in her front yard and the man who created the racist signs had a Trump sign in the front of his property.
“I am disappointed that there are some people in our community who would do shopping so ugly and so hurtful to others for no reason other than a difference in skin color," Leeper said. “I can guarantee you if someone does commit a crime, and it can be determined, it was based upon prejudice, we will not hesitate to get classified as a hate crime.”
Leeper said Florida’s hate crime statutes allow for enhanced penalties for any criminal act, or attempted criminal act, where prejudice based on race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation is found.
In July, News4Jax also reported about the Sproul family in Yulee. The family put posters of their twin girls Xanah and Xarah up in front of their Timber Creek Plantation home like any other proud family celebrating their own 2020 graduates.
They later received a hateful anonymous letter in the mail calling the straight-A students a “disgrace to the neighborhood.”
“We hope the incidents like the ones we have had recently do not happen again in our community. But if it does, rest assured, we’ll be quick to act, to find the guilty person or persons, and bring them to justice,” Leeper said.