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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Hate Mail Shocks Mother of Fire Victim

A local mother is in shock after receiving hate mail in response to her plea to turn an empty lot into a memorial garden for her bi-racial son.

Two years ago, Eva Brooks' 5-year-old son was killed in a house fire on North Fayette Street in Jacksonville. Since his death, Brooks has tried to build support to turn the empty lot, which her family owns, into a memorial garden.

"You know with roses and little benches and stuff," Brooks said.

After drawing community attention to her cause, Brooks received a letter. Scrawled inside was a message of hate.

The letter begins-- "Hello (ladies): It always makes me heartsick to see a Negro & a white person team up." It continues, "I do not believe any Negro deserves a park named for them, in memory of them, or a memorial garden...They should still be slaves... I'm not for anything a Negro does. I think they should all be put on a slow boat to Africa."

After reading the letter, Brooks said, "I don't believe that a person can be that low to say something like that about a child."

Brooks wants answers, but police say the letter will be difficult to track.

"They didn't put any return address on it, there was no signature to it. You have thousands of fingerprints I'm sure on the envelope," Jacksonville Police Department Sgt. Olivia Mefford said.

Police said the envelope could have been sent from anywhere between Jacksonville and Champaign, and even if they did find the person who wrote it, a hateful letter alone is not considered a hate crime.

"We're determining it at this point to be a freedom of speech," Mefford said. 

It's hateful speech Brooks wants her children, and anyone who will listen, to learn from.

"I want my kids to know they are just as good as the next person," Brooks said. "You know, I don't want them to think that they have to hide because they're mixed or because they have black in them. Hide from nobody."

If you have any information on who may have sent that letter to the Brooks family, call the Jacksonville Police Department at 217-479-4630.


 
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