Richard Gordon is a Barrington, Rhode Island, man who was filmed confronting his neighbor and using racial slurs. He is now facing a simple assault charge, and potentially a hate-crime enhancement, according to Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha.
In a Facebook video that went viral, Iman Ali Pahlavi documented 71-year-old Gordon in a confrontation with her husband, Bahram, over an apparent property line dispute. Gordon can be heard shouting racial slurs in the video, and an apparent assault of some kind occurs, before Gordon’s wife gets between him and the Pahlavis.
Here’s what you need to know:
Pahlavi & Gordon Were Apparently Arguing About Their Property Line When Gordon Was Filmed Shouting, ‘F*** You, N*****!’
The Pahlavis posted two videos to Facebook of the Aug. 3 confrontation — which started as a dispute over a missing property marker between the two couples’ homes, according to Iman.
Be warned, the video includes disturbing, racist language.
The first clip begins as Gordon and Bahram are in the middle of an argument. Bahram can be heard saying, “You are rude.” Then, there is apparent physical contact of some sort and Gordon can be heard shouting, “F*** you, n*****!”
“Assault,” Bahram says, followed by, “Call the police.” Meanwhile, Gordon can be heard saying, “F*** you, get out of here!”
The second video shows the two men’s spouses getting involved. Gordon sits on the lawn; there is blood on his arm, but it’s unclear where it came from. Gordon’s wife continues the argument over the property line with Iman, although she appears to try to make peace.
“Stop it, Richie,” she says to her husband as he sits on the ground, grumbling. “Go in the house”
Gordon’s wife also tells Iman and Bahram that she doesn’t approve of her husband’s language.
“I know,” she tells Iman, who references Gordon using the N-word and another racial slur for Middle-Easterners. “And it’s terrible, I agree … Richie, how can you talk like that? That’s really awful.”
“Why did he come attack me like that?” Bahram later asks Gordon’s wife, to which she responds, “I don’t know.”
Barrington police responded that day, but had trouble determining who was the “primary aggressor,” according to a police department release. After a week-long investigation and reviewing the videos, they arrested Gordon on Aug. 7, however, charging him with simple assault and disorderly conduct.
Police noted in the release that they were working with Attorney General Peter Neronha to determine whether the state’s hate crime statute would be relevant.
Black Lives Matter Protesters Demonstrated in Front of the Town Hall & Gordon’s Home This Week, Demanding Hate Crime Charges
A rally is being held in front of Barrington Town Hall right now in response to a video of a local man yelling racial slurs at his neighbor.
— Kelly O'Neill (@NBC10_KellyO) August 9, 2020
The incident inflamed some apparent existing tensions in Barrington, with a rally held in front of the town hall on Aug. 9, local NBC affiliate WJAR reported.
Barrington resident Ndeye Diallo told the outlet that she has been “subjected to something similar” as a person of color.
“I feel, like, the tension. I feel the looks,” she said. “I feel the comments when I’m walking in town.”
She added that her young daughter was called the N-word at school, and she feels the need to “shield” her children.
Barrington’s population is about 91% white, according to Niche.com.
And on Tuesday, Black Lives Matter Rhode Island organized a protest in the neighborhood where the incident took place.
“For the despicable hate speech and the assault that was witnessed on video and seen by many, there must be the charge of a hate crime by the attorney general, in addition to the other charges,” organizers wrote on Facebook. “The racist language used in the video by this perpetrator of violence and the racist slurs and derogatory language are compounded by a very serious offense.”
Protesters took a knee and waved a Black Lives Matter flag in front of Gordon’s home, according to state progressive newspaper Uprise Rhode Island.
The Barrington Town Council on Aug. 8 released a statement calling Gordon’s behavior “abhorrent,” but announcing that the attorney general would not be pursuing hate crime charges.
“The town of Barrington extends its support to the victims in this case and stands with all those who condemn discrimination in any form,” the council wrote. “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 right, will not be tolerated in any instance.”
On Tuesday, Neronha Announced He Would Seek a Hate Crime Enhancement for Gordon’s Charges
However, on Tuesday, Neronha announced in a news release that he would in fact push for enhanced hate crime related sentencing for Gordon.
“Over the weekend, members of this office reviewed the evidence collected by the Barrington Police Department in connection with this matter,” Neronha said. “Additionally, on Sunday, August 9, members of this office and the Barrington Police Department interviewed the victim and his wife. Based on this review, this office adopted the prosecution of this case, and filed the aforementioned notice of sentencing enhancement today.”
The sentencing enhancement means that if Gordon is convicted of the two misdemeanors, at sentencing, Neronha or a prosecutor from his office will present evidence that Gordon committed the act out of bias or racism, according to state law. The sentence could then have between 30 days and one year added to it.
Iman said on Facebook that for three years, she and her husband have been subjected to “microaggressions,” including neighbors walking all over her property and parking in her driveway.
“I had been told it was racism, but I didn’t want to believe it,” she said.
As for the incident with Gordon, she said, “I shudder to think what would have happened if we did not have the video. Privilege is real.”
Katherine Quinn, a friend of Iman, said that the Pahlavis once hosted friends — also people of color — at their home and noticed Gordon sitting on his porch watching them and cleaning his gun, the Boston Globe reported.
Iman Pahlavi declined to comment for this story, referring Heavy instead to her attorney, Tony DeSisto, who had not responded as of Wednesday afternoon.
Gordon’s attorney, Matthew Dawson, told Heavy that Gordon regrets the language he used, but that the whole confrontation was not seen in the video. Bahram assaulted Gordon with a hammer, according to Dawson.
“Although certainly unfortunate, the incident … stemmed from a property dispute between neighbors who have known each other for a number of years,” Dawson said. “Nothing that transpired was in any way motivated by racial animus or hostility toward the victim.”
Gordon will be apologizing and making “other efforts to make amends” at some point, Dawson added.