NORMANNA (KIII NEWS) -
Dorothy Barrera told KIII-TV's Michael Gibson,"Right there is where they tried to break into the bedroom." She then added, "You can see my fence every place you see the fence down that's where they've been trying to come in."
Barrera was explaining what she says has happened to her since we helped her expose the racist policies that were in place at the community cemetery in Normanna. Her fight to bury the cremated remains of her hispanic husband at the San Domingo Cemetery drew worldwide attention.
We were the first media outlet to air the story back in March of 2016. During that initial story we found Jimmy Bradford. He was in charge of the cemetery and told Dorothy, and this reporter, that only whites could be buried here. Here is some of what he said to us about burying Dorothy's husband, " he wasn't supposed to be buried there because he was a mexican.... that's as plain as I can say.... that's what I told her.... so that's what we've been doing."
Once our initial story aired, we then contacted State lawmakers, LULAC, the NAACP and the GI Forum to get their reaction to this racist policy. The result? Protests and calls for action. We also got in touch with, The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund or MALDEF, to see what if anything could be done to force Jimmy Bradford to allow Dorothy to bury her husband Pedro.
Eventually, MALDEF filed a lawsuit on behalf of the GI Forum against the Cemetery Association and Bradford. A settlement was reached last July and the white's only policy was ended. But Dorothy believes she continues to pay the price for what she did.
"One guy chased me all around here picked me up like so so got me there to the back and there's this big dude wearing a mask." That's one of several attacks Dorothy told us she's suffered. She told us she's called the Bee County Sheriff's Department over 60 times since our first story aired. She believes someone has been after her and continues to attack her repeatedly. She fears for her safety. So, she now has a security system and a taser. She explained,"That's a taser, if someone comes in, I'm not going to be beat no more, I am going to hit them right where it hurts."
The Chief Deputy at the Sheriff's Department tells 3 News that none of Dorothy's claims of being attacked and harassed have been proven. Still, Dorothy says she's not going to be run out of Normanna. Matter of fact, she is about to open up a café and thrift store here behind her home. Now, there's also another big concern remaining here in Normanna.
Many groups like LULAC and the NAACP are still wondering why the headstone of a hispanic man is still sitting outside what was supposedly no longer a white's only cemetery. We sat down with Susie Luna-Saldana. She's with LULAC Council #1 to see what that organization might do to have the grave of Santo Ramirez moved to the inside of that fence.
Ramirez died in 1910 and that fence was put up much later than that. Luna-Saldana told us, "It's something I'm going to bring up to Council 1 to see if we can re-look at the situation." There's also still the matter of the remains of Dorothy's husband. Will she ever bury him at San Domingo? Here's what she said, "I don't trust, excuse me Bradford, but I don't trust him, that's why my husband is still in the house on the shelf because I think if I bury him out there he'd dig him up."
So, what is her plan for her husbands remains? Well she said,"After all of this is over with taking my husband's ashes to Banquete and putting them with his brother Victor." While she plans on burying her husband, this story is still very much alive. Barrera is about to file the paperwork on a lawsuit against the Cemetery Association and Jimmy Bradford.
But this 75 year old widow admits that there are times she feels like giving up. Dorothy told us, "I think I'm going to have a breakdown and sometimes I feel like just setting down and going away, I do miss him."
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