MODESTO, Calif. – There was an outcry on social media after a California mother and her disabled daughter claimed they were the target of alleged hate speech from their neighbors.
For Kelli Tanghe and her daughter, Ari, who has cerebral palsy, marathons and 5K races are their happy places.
“When she crossed that first finish line she said, ‘Mom, I feel so good. I feel like my disability disappears,” Kelli Tanghe told KTXL.
However, the Tanghes say this past year they’ve lived in fear.
“I think for intimidation. I think because we put in security cameras,” Kelli Tanghe said.
They say voodoo dolls, satanic symbols and hateful signs mocking Ari were posted by their next door neighbor.
They’ve also been confronted on their runs.
“He’d be waiting for them and saying horrible things, mostly in Spanish,” said Michael Tanghe.
KTXL spoke to one of the neighbors, who asked to have his identity hidden. He said his brother made the signs and he did not know why he did it.
He also said his family is just defending themselves and that the other family is not innocent.
“Our signs began after they started doing stuff to us, like they keep calling the cops on certain things that we do,” he told KTXL.
Both sides say they have filed a number of police reports. However, because all of this is done on private property police say there is little they can do.
Sharon Bear with the Modesto Police Department said what has been said so far is not considered hate speech under the letter of the law. She added officers were aware of the allegations both sides have made against each other.
“I don’t believe that the law … the law is there to protect people from this kind of harassment,” Kelli Tanghe said.
However, there is a new sign on the block — “Race to Erase Hate.” The Tanghes are organizing a run for next fall.
“Race together, be together, participate in any activity together and not feel threatened,” Kelli Tanghe said.
KTXL asked both families if they think there’s some way they can compromise but both sides did not seem hopeful.