BARRINGTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Following an alleged hate crime against a Barrington man, a group of protesters marched to where the incident took place.
Richard Gordon, 72, is accused of shouting profanities and a racial slur at his neighbor during an argument. He was charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct on Sunday.
Organizers of the protest, including Mark Fisher, senior director of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island, said what happened was sickening.
“I found the whole thing offensive, personally, from beginning to end,” Fisher said. “The behavior, the entitlement, the privilege, the lying on the police report, trying to make the victim into the perpetrator … the whole thing was despicable to me.”
The office of Attorney General Peter Neronha announced Tuesday that Gordon could face an increased penalty if criminal conduct is determined to be motivated by hate.
“It’s obvious that’s what it was to me,” Fisher added. “I mean, there’s not ambiguity if the guy is committing an assault and is using racial profanities and overtones throughout the whole thing.”
Gordon’s attorney, Matthew Dawson, released a statement saying he is disappointed by Neronha’s decision. Dawson also claimed that Gordon was assaulted prior to the video and required medical attention.
“Although Dr. Gordon’s use of racially charged language was certainly inappropriate, and unacceptable, it came following a mutual confrontation, which was a continuing disagreement between neighbors,” he said.
The harsher sentence for a hate crime would only apply if Gordon is convicted.
The protesters marched down Rumstick Drive to Gordon’s home, holding signs and waving flags where the incident took place.
“I’m proud to be from Rhode Island, and the fact that this happened in Rhode Island makes me really sad because we are really diverse here,” Elizabeth Torres, one of the protesters, said. “It just makes me sick. It nauseates me.”
Fisher said they wanted to make a statement.
“We’re not just going to allow you to act out your hate and express your bigotry with impunity. This is just the beginning,” he said. “You can expect more and more of this kind of response and backlash to that bigoted and disgusting behavior.”