Gregory and Sophia Bonds, a Black couple from Gainesville, Ga., filed a lawsuit last month against a former neighbor for repeated instances of racial harassment, and the city for not protecting them from that harassment, the Associated Press reports.
Roy Turner, Jr., who is White, was employed with the city’s solid waste department during the time the alleged verbal assaults took place.
Gregory Bonds said that Turner began his harassment back in February, 2012, the day they moved into the neighborhood. Whenever Turner saw them outside, he would allegedly make ape noises and hurl other racial epithets.
Turner told the Associated Press that he was just having a little fun.
“I said ‘porch monkey,'” he said with a chuckle. “That’s just a joking-around term.”
Sophia Bonds filed a report against him about a month later, saying that she was afraid of him. When police showed up, Turner said that he was employed with the city and wouldn’t harass anyone. About a month after that, Gregory Bonds and Turner exchanged words outside. Turner went into his house and returned with a loaded rifle, which he aimed at Bonds.
Police were called and after a few hours long stand-off, a SWAT team entered Turner’s home, shot him with a Taser and forcibly removed him.
According to the Gainesville Times, Turner also issued death threats against the Bonds’ family which includes three teenage children.
Turner allegedly approached members of the family and their friends with a baseball bat, lobbing threats and slurs, according to the neighbor. An account of the incident is included in the lawsuit.
Turner is alleged to have repeatedly shouted the “n-word” at the Bonds family, and more than once threatened to “send them to their maker.”
Gregory and Sophia Bonds are citing the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and a similar Georgia state law, according to the Associated Press, which states that “it’s illegal to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with someone who is exercising or enjoying any right guaranteed by that law.”
Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan, a classmate of Turner’s wouldn’t comment on the suit against the city, but defended Turner’s actions.
“I’ve known him a long time and we were in school together,” Dunagan said. “He’s got some lasting effects, mentally, from [an] accident. He’s, as far as I know, not violent. He just gets a little carried away.”
Read more at the Gainesville Times.