Alleged racist sued on behalf of Austin woman

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by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on June 18, 2013 at 5:22 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 18 at 5:41 PM

AUSTIN -- The Texas Civil Rights Project is helping an Austin woman who claims a neighbor is racially harassing her. The woman says the threats are keeping her and her family from building a home on their own property.

Christina Pina Perez and her family held a march to their property in Montopolis Tuesday. The signs they held read,  "America is my home" and "I have the right to live in peace."

With them walked lawyers with the Texas Civil Rights Project who spoke at a news conference.

Lawyer Amelia Ruiz Fischer lawyer spoke on behalf of Ms. Perez. "She says that she's depressed, that's shes traumatized, she's terrified all of the time," Fischer said.

Together they've filed a civil rights lawsuit and a temporary injunction to stop a neighbor they claim is racially harassing them.

KVUE spoke with that neighbor, Amanda Benavides.

"I treat her right. I talk to her about God, Jesus Christ," Benavides said.

The filings allege that Benavides repeatedly harassed Perez with racist comments, and that she even made a death threat and showed a gun to Perez's daughter.

Benavides claims she has done no such thing.

"I was in the Navy, and I have guns, yes, and I can use them, but not on people," Benavides said.

Benavides said Tuesday this was the first time she was hearing about the lawsuit.

Another neighbor, Fred McGhee, says he hasn't witnessed any harassment. Instead, he says Perez has been accusatory to him. His home overlooks their plot of land. He says people already stay there at times.

"We are united in the perception that the effort to build something here is an encroachment. There was never an effort to speak to the neighborhood," said McGhee.

The Perez family says the yelling from Benavides scares away the people they've hired to build their home, and that they've already had to come up with money for a permit extension.

At this point, they only have 180 days left to finish building their home.

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