Citing a sliver of civil rights-era legislation more commonly used as protection against discriminatory landlords, a black couple is suing their former neighbor and a north Georgia city they say failed to stop him from harassing them. Gregory and Sophia Bonds say the slurs and threats began the day they moved into the brick ranch rental home in a well-kept neighborhood in Gainesville, northeast of Atlanta, back in February 2012. Roy Turner Jr., the white neighbor who worked for the city's solid waste department, verbally assaulted them whenever he saw them outside, including sometimes while he was working, the couple contends. He also sometimes walked and made sounds like an ape when he saw them, the Bonds family asserts in a lawsuit filed last month.
Turner—who the mayor says was in a car crash in the 1970s that left him with a traumatic brain injury that caused mental impairment and altered his behavior—told the AP he wasn't aware of the lawsuit but that he never threatened anyone. "I said 'porch monkey,'" he said with a chuckle. "That's just a joking-around term." The lawsuit details more than a dozen specific instances of alleged harassment. Gregory Bonds said the final straw came in May: The family had company and Turner came out into his yard with a baseball bat and began hitting a tree aggressively and yelling more slurs. The family moved the next month. They cite a provision of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and a nearly identical section of Georgia law that says it's illegal to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with someone who is exercising or enjoying any right guaranteed by that law. (Read more racism stories.)