BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Barrington man was charged after an apparent racially motivated incident was caught on camera.
On Monday, August 3, just before 4 p.m., police were called to Rumstick Drive for a report of a disturbance. When they arrived, police learned there was an argument between two neighbors, Richard Gordon, 71, and Bahram Pahlavi, over a property marker.
According to a police affidavit, Pahlavi said he was trying to hammer a marker into the ground when Gordon came out of his house and aggressively approached him while yelling profanities and a racial slur at Pahlavi, who is of Middle Eastern descent.
Pahlavi said Gordon then knocked him back off his feet in an attempt to stop him from continuing to hammer in the property stake.
Pahlavi tried to leave the situation, but claims Gordon followed and continued to follow him aggressively and verbally abuse him, according to the affidavit.
A video of the incident later obtained by police compared to statements taken from those involved indicated that Gordon was the aggressor who initiated the incident.
As a result, Gordon was arrested and charged with simple assault or battery and disorderly conduct.
Community members gathered outside Barrington Town Hall on Sunday, after video of the incident grabbed the attention of hundreds of people on social media.
“There’s always been this undercurrent of just white privilege and not particular interest in diversifying the community, and it’s come to a head,” Diane Barense said.
Friends of Pahlavi say they want the Attorney General’s Office to file hate crime charges.
“It’s a verbal and physical assault, and or physical assault that’s driven by racial, racism, and this is clearly if you watch the video. That’s my reaction,” Katherine Quinn said.
Barrington Town Council President Michael Carroll and Town Manager James J. Cunha released a statement on the incident that read in part:
The Town of Barrington extends its support to the victims in this case and stands with all those who condemn discrimination in any form. We want to make it crystal clear to all residents and visitors alike that behavior endangering the safety of anyone, which interferes in the quiet enjoyment of their home and property or which impacts basic civil rights will not be tolerated in any instance.”
According to Barrington Police Chief Dino DeCrescenzo, they will continue to work with the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office to see if any hate crime charges could be added. The Attorney General’s Office tells us, they couldn’t comment further pending the investigation.
Eyewitness News has reached out to Gordon but have not heard back from him yet.