My 70 year old African American father is being harassed by a racist neighbor...can I do anything?
They have had issues for years. The neighbor is in his early 40s, looks like a skinhead, and has a bunch of cars and loud, barking dogs. My dad is a neat freak, and has told him about his hoa violations (I know, but remember that he is 70). I visited a couple of months ago (my dad lives in Portland) and played catch in the front of the house with my nephew. The neighbor man stood there with his arms crossed, in the street, and stared at us for literally 25-30 min. It was so strange. Then, the neighbor left a vehicle in front of my dad's house for a couple of weeks, so my dad went to his house to ask him to move it. He answered the door with a rifle in his hand (in the middle of the day). The last straw was a few days ago, when the neighbor hung a confederate flag. My dad grew in in segregated Mississippi, and his great grandfather was a slave. My siblings and I are livid. My dad wants to go to his house to talk. My brother volunteered to steal the flag. Either way, someone will get hurt. This idiot doesn't want to talk, he is just waiting to shoot someone. My dad is obsessed with this situation though, and isn't eating or sleeping. There must be something that I can do?
Are you a troll?
It sounds as if everything he has done is perfectly legal. Your father is just going to have to grin and bear it. He is, no doubt, trying to get your father, or a member of your family to do something stupid.
No, r1...I swear I am not, although I know that there have been a lot of race related trolls lately. I have honestly thought about calling the media, but there is obviously nothing illegal about flying the confederate flag. Portland is a liberal city, so I think people would care that an elderly man is being harassed. My dad actually lives in Gresham (a suburb). Honest to god, I am so pissed that I feel like posting the assholes address all over the Internet.
I'd love to say, 'Stand your ground.'
Nothing you can do about it. It sucks. But your dad should just learn to ignore it. It's not illegal to wave a confederate flag. Tacky and moronic, but not illegal.
The neighbor is fucking ignorant douchebag and I believe he would shoot! He's like a rabid dog. Just stay away.
Your dad should call the police. His conversation with them should include "I know my neighbor has not done anything wrong legally, but in case anything happens to me, I want to report the details of what's happened so far". Make sure a report is filed.
The Portland police will have a "talk" with the neighbor and let him know that he's on notice. It may not improve the situation, but it may help if future problems arise.
Don't worry, r1, r3 our in-house shit-stirrer will be along to whip up a frenzy, no doubt.
I would avoid the asshole neighbor, and no amount of conversation will change an asshole...rise above it, if at all possible.
Paint the Africa/Black Power image on your Dad's roof - the roof that faces the neighbors house.
For Christ's sake, think of the well-being of your old man, and move him into a nicer place where skin heads won't destroy your dad's Golden Years, who cares who's right or acting legally!
The HOA should be notifies as well as that heads up to the cops.
OP, You should let the cops know the history, in writing, so that hopefully they can patrol the area if they happen to be nearby. Realize that it is probably an extremely low priority for them, and they'll ask why you didn't contact the HOA in writing. Of course they'll tell your Dad that he should move. I'm sure there's very valid reasons why this is not realistic.
I would tell your Dad to completely ignore the neighbors, no matter what happens. Under no circumstance should he contact them directly, no matter how hard that is for him. Silent treatment is best; be the better man. Start a written correspondence with the HOA.
My upstairs neighbor in my very quiet, gated condo community is a similar nutjob. She makes loud, nasty comments about every single one of my very polite visitors that pick me up; luckily there aren't that many. If UPS drops off a package, she's making foul remarks. All of this, especially her non-stop swearing at her adult son is strictly against condo rules. Also they all laugh at the warning letters and fines, knowing that they won't be kicked out.
Do not touch or go near any of your neighbor's property.
As offensive as the flag may be, don't attempt to do anything to it.
Frankly, if you let trash be trash, it will eventually be taken out when it's time for it to go.
I agree that none of you should do anything about the flag, but I don't blame you for being concerned. I don't know what HOA is, but, what kind of income does he have? Could he get some advice from legal aid or a local senior organization regarding his rights? Those "stand your ground" laws are scary although I have no idea what the law is in your father's state. I'd help him find some organization that can provide advice and possibly advocacy for him in his current situation.
[quote]Frankly, if you let trash be trash, it will eventually be taken out when it's time for it to go.
I'm totally stealing this.
Have your dad psychologically disarm the racist neighbor by asking him for help starting a lawnmower, asking to borrow a tool, etc. Do this in the daytime, of course, in front of someone.
[quote] but there is obviously nothing illegal about flying the confederate flag.
It may be against HOA rules. Your father needs to take up his complaints with them.
R16, the HOA knows about the flag. He does not need to contact them. In general, people do not appreciate being informed of the obvious. Either, they are going to deal with it or, they are not going to deal with it. It is out of his hands.
R6 has good advice.
Many HOA's are hyper controlling, other's want to stick their heads in the sand, do nothing, and hope the problems go away. That is hardly ever the case.
r19, that is good advice... on a TV show. In real life the moment the words "has not done anything wrong legally" are spoken, the police will cut you off. The police are not there create a file on the neighbor. If one were to persist, you would find yourself in trouble. This is the equivalent of calling 911 for a non-emergency.
The fact, and I do mean "fact", that everyone is avoiding is that the father is powerless. That is right, there is *nothing* he can do at this point. It may be an uncomfortable reality, but it is the reality. The most helpful thing the son can do is to explain this to his father. I understand that the father probably is feeling increasingly powerless because of his age, and that this situation is just aggravating this. Unfortunately, that is just too damn bad.
what is with this referring to a 70-year-old as an "elderly man" crap !?!
R21, should we refer to him as "at deaths door?"
A HOA has some legal obligations.
At this point, no. Stealing the flag would be, of course, illegal, but whether or not your brother wishes to be civilly disobedient is his own issue. I wouldn't advise it, not because I am opposed to civil disobedience, but because of how it might redound on your grandfather.
I don't think your grandfather should have to move, but if I were him, and could, I would. At this point it sucks and it is what it is.
[quote] I don't think your grandfather should have to move, but if I were him, and could, I would.
By doing this, the racist neighbor has won.
R25, Life is not fair. The bad guys often (usually) win. The question is what kind of quality of life does the man want for the rest of his life? As far as statistics go, he is already older that the average life expectancy of an AA male. Does he want to spend the remaining years of his like in a no-win battle with an obnoxious neighbor?
Interesting the issue about the flag. In my previous, expensive apt complex, my neighbors had to take down their British flag. Others had complained and management didn't want to start a precedent. Gossip was already way too prevalent including comparing outside decorations, especially on holidays. One's beautiful patio flowers caused resentment in someone poorer etc.
Was advised to greatly minimize contact with all neighbors, when one lives in close quarters. Some have nothing better to do with their lives than stir up trouble.
This neighbor sounds like a real idjut. Greeting someone at the door with a rifle?? There must be others in the neighborhood who he has gone after. I'd round them up and hold an HOA meeting.
I like R28's idea. Strength in numbers.
[bold]Can homeowners association evict a home owner?[/bold]
Evicting a home owner from a community is a dramatic action for an association to take against one of its members.
Your governing documents offer many options for helping owners understand their requirements to live in the community according to the community's guidelines. Apparently, an owner lives in your community who does not 'abide by the rules'.
The association can issue notices of violation and levy fines against errant owners.
If an owner is simply unpopular, complains consistently and makes life in the community hard for other residents, it's possible that the community will simply be forced to continue life with such a neighbor.
However, if an owner compromises the security and safety of the community, for example, with criminal behaviour, and the association has involved legal authorities, it's possible that the association's attorney could assist the association in removing such an errant owner.
Sorry R23, your post at R30 does not prove your point. It indicates no legal obligation what so ever. It merely lays out possibilities. What it does say is that the bar for evicting a homeowner is extremely high. You cannot evict a homeowner simply for being a bad neighbor.
Silly question, do we know for a fact that the neighbor is a homeowner and not a renter? Just a thought.
R31, again, this isn't really helpful in this case. The examples of harassment are extreme. What the neighbor is doing doesn't rise to that level. It is interesting that the document seems to be more concerned with children and the handicapped than race or religion.
Two words: SECURITY CAMERA
You can find them cheap online--there are even ones that are wireless and send the video to a nearby computer. Mount it outside the front door, so that it can see who walks up to the front door, the front of the house and driveway (your father's), and (in the background) the idiot's house.
A camera might scare him off, and at least put him on notice that "evidence" is being collected. And then if he does anything that steps even slightly over the line, you've got him.
An infrared security camera
Another thing: find the guy's name--you can find out online--and just take a look to see if he's had any problems with the law before. People rarely transform into racist assholes overnight. You might find something that may be useful.
Real question is when does an obnoxious neighbor cross the line between being a pain to being really dangerous or a threat? Would getting others to bug the HOA cause the "pain" to retaliate and become really dangerous?
R37, judging from what has been posted, I think the neighbor know exactly what he is doing and isn't going to "cross the line". He is trying to get the father to cross the line. He is probably very well informed as to what he can and cannot do, and just how far he can go. There are probably instructions online on how one can intimidate a neighbor without crossing a line.
I am sure he would love for someone to steal the flag.
This is Gresham's code for flag display under their sign ordinance:
F. Flags displayed from permanently located free-standing or wall-mounted flagpoles which are designed to allow raising and lowering of flags. The number of such flags shall be limited in number to one per 100 feet of linear frontage, with a maximum of 6 per premises. Such displays shall be kept neat, clean and in good repair (page 7).
Is the neighbor's flag displayed thusly? If not, ask a local advocacy group to file a complaint.
There is probably another code that your neighbor is violating by leaving a car for weeks at a time on a public street.
Is there ANY black person in American who hasn't been victimized/bullied based on their skin color?
Does anything bad ever happen to black people which isn't the result of racism, the way shit which isn't race-motivated happens to white people and Latino people and Asian people?
Do black people ever do anything wrong to someone of another race? Is there any black person in America who doesn't suffer from racism every single day of his or her life?
Sorry, that was more than one question, but I would appreciate if anyone can answer them. I'd really like to know.
R20 is right. And, I'm not trying to start any shit, but I want to hear the neighbor's side of the story. Has it occurred to anyone that maybe HE feels threatened for some reason? I really don't see that he has done anything that would indicate he is racist. Obnoxious and annoying, yes, but racist? The Confederate Flag... I didn't think it would really be considered racist to hang that flag... but I'm a Yankee so school me if necessary...
Tell him to stand his ground.
The guy is hostile and trying to intimidate his neighbors, sometimes with a firearm..
whether that's a reflection of his hatred for black people, old people, gay people, people who paint their houses blue, or people who post on DL is irrelevant.
That is effed up, OP. Gonna agree with those who say your father should only go through the authorities (police, HOA, etc.) Security cam sounds good too.
Document everything, Take still pics. Maybe install a taller fence between the two houses (good fences make good neighbors.) Maybe get a good dog (not a pitbull.)
Stay the hell away from this kook. Trolls of all kinds feed on attention, whether negative or positive.
Document and record everything.
Tell your father to call the police. Not 9/11 but the local number of the police station and alert them to everything that has happened so far.
You can even go over to the man and talk with him rationally and explain that his actions are greatly upsetting your father.
But the most important thing is to document so if something, god forbids does happen, you have the records so it cannot turn into a he said/he said thing.
Tell him not to go onto the neighbor's property. He might get the idea he can shoot a black man now and claim self-defense.
I would definitely install cameras.
Document everything you can and then report it to the Sheriff's Department, OP.
Your dad's leverage is his age.
If the neighbor is answering the door with a rifle in hand, I would NOT go over there.
Stay off the guy's property. Don't give him an "excuse" to do anything rash.
Better to just call him.
If the car and the flag are the worst of it, it's really not that bad. Really. Neighbors can be so much worse.
You can always report a "suspicious car" parked in front of your house, the cops will respond.
RE: Security cameras. The neighbor so far has not exhibited any sort of trespassing/vandalism behavior to warrant such paranoia. Don't start.
DO NOT steal his flag. You will be starting a war and the law will be on HIS side. Trespassing and theft.
Best defense is a strong offense. Have grandpa smile and wave at the neighbor whenever he sees him. Can't hurt. Might help.
Tell Grandpa to peek through the neighbor's window and report on everything his neighbor does.
[quote]The guy is hostile and trying to intimidate his neighbors, sometimes with a firearm..
Answering the door on his own property with a firearm is not intimidation.
Knocking on GRANDPA'S door with a firearm in hand IS intimidation.
Exactly, R51. The neighbor has not broken the law, and before all of DL goes running to his house with torches and pitchforks we should consider that there are two sides to every story.
[quote]My dad is a neat freak, and has told him about his hoa violations (I know, but remember that he is 70).
$10 says this started the whole thing.
"neat freak" = OCD
[quote]My dad is obsessed with this situation though, and isn't eating or sleeping.
Even more OCD.
I'll bet the neighbor has endless stories about your "pain-in-the-ass" grandpa.
Where are you all getting "grandpa" from? OP states over and over that it is his FATHER, not grandfather.
R53 makes a good point.
My mother still lives in the same house--in a gated community for the well-healed--that we lived in before I went to college. EVERYONE in the neighborhood knows that there is a Russian mafia house on one street, and a grow house rented by drug dealers on another street. They stay quiet and keep to themselves. But no one talks to them, no talks about them (in whispers inside someone's home, maybe), no one calls anyone. Why would you risk your own peace of mind by making your neighborhood a war zone?
There's a lot to be said for staying out of other people's shit.
Load a gun in front of them.
OP how are the other neighbors? Do you know if they have any issue with this guy?
Having said all that...as far as I know a person can park his car anywhere legal on any public street. There are usually bylaws relating to how many days they can sit without moving.
Where I live, the HOA rule is that only homeowners can park their cars in front of their own (detached) houses.
Videotape the neighbor antagonizing your father.
R60, unless that is a private street, maintained by the HOA, that is illegal. We have that situation where I live. The HOA had that in its rules, until it was sued. There are still a few old-timers who do not understand that the HOA cannot do whatever they want. The will come out and yell, but the few who have called the police have been told that the next time that they call, they will be fined for wasting police time.
What kind of security measures does you father have? Dies he have out door motion sensutuve lighting? Does he have an alarm? Can you rig a video camera to record what happens outside, as when he stood outside watching you?
I would not go over there and talk to him. Absolutely not. Tell your father not to. And OP, you need to move your father out of there. You haven't said a word about other neighbors.
What kind of neighbors does he have? Are they all rednecks with lots of cars or are the decent people? (I'd move and rent my place out to the loudest nastiest people I could find.)
Have your father sit on the porch and start making a voodoo doll that looks just like the neighbor
R38 is right.
The neighbor is baiting your father and your family... just waiting for an excuse, the first opportunity to take possibly violent action.
I agree with the security cameras, front and back of your dad's property.
Your father sounds like a decent man, but he needs to avoid any and all contact with this neighbor.
My 70 year old Christian Fundamentalist father is being harassed by a homosexual neighbor...can I do anything?
They have had issues for years. The neighbor is in his early 40s, looks like a male stripper, and has a bunch of cars and loud, barking chihuahuas. My dad is a neat freak, and has told him about his hoa violations (I know, but remember that he is 70). I visited a couple of months ago (my dad lives in Portland) and played catch in the front of the house with my nephew. The neighbor man stood there with his arms crossed, in the street, and stared at us for literally 25-30 min. It was so strange.
Then, the neighbor left a Miata in front of my dad's house for a couple of weeks, so my dad went to his house to ask him to move it. He answered the door with a rifle in his hand (in the middle of the day). The last straw was a few days ago, when the neighbor hung a rainbow flag. My dad grew in in Christian Mississippi, and his great grandfather was a preacher. My siblings and I are livid. My dad wants to go to his house to talk. My brother volunteered to steal the flag. Either way, someone will get hurt. This idiot doesn't want to talk, he is just waiting to shoot someone. My dad is obsessed with this situation though, and isn't eating or sleeping. There must be something that I can do?
Confederate flag? Doesn't the dummy know they LOST the war!
Don't steal it, don't touch it, the guy is an asshole, don't get hooked into his sick trap. please.
I can't believe nobody has suggested to leave flaming bags of dog poo on his doorstep.
I'm not American, but I would have thought that opening your front door while holding a shotgun would be illegal. Especially if the person has knocked on your door (not kicked it in), made no threat towards you, is of no physical threat to you and is unarmed.
OP, you, your Dad, and/or your siblings should get multiple high quality cameras to cover all/every angle of your Dad's propriety. Some cameras should be obvious, and others hidden. This is a life or death situation, so spend the money.
Also, this needs to be documented by an attorney. Your Dad should give daily/weekly updates to this attorney, including video, etc...,and the attorney should contact the police....that will get their fucking attention.
On his own property, the neighbor can hang a confederate flag if he damn well wants to....
and there's nothing your father or Eric Holder can do about it!
just tell your father to hang a gigantic Obama/Biden sign.
The problem with your idiotic scenario R67 is that people choose to be anti-gay Christian fundamentalists. The OPs father didn't choose to be black. What do you suggest he do about this, in order to stop offending his neighbour? Bleach his skin? Apologise for being black? Stay indoors all the time so as to not offend rednecks?
R70, you didn't have to say you aren't American, the rest of your comment said it for you.
@ R70 It's perfectly legal. However, in most city/urban areas it would be rather uncommon for someone to do so.
In more rural areas, it is very common for people to run out on their front porch with their shotguns as soon as they see you pulling into their driveway. This used to happen all the time when I was working as a "visiting nurse" when the patient was not expecting me to show up.
So I guess the redneck neighbor opening the door holding the shotgun really doesn't surprise me at all. But then again I'm an American who lives in Pennsylvania so...
Shoot him. Cite Stand Your Ground.
As a very non-professional shit-stirrer, I'd suggest hosting a gay car wash fundraiser in front of your dad's house. Invite some PDA-prone couples.
Make sure to offer to wash your neighbor's car as well.
If you wish to escalate to triple threat, play religious Jewish music during your fundraiser. Spice it up with some "Ray of Light" tracks.
Thank you r75. That's mind blowing to me. You're a braver person than I will ever be. The first time someone even thought about holding a gun in my general direction I would drop dead from fright. I wonder what people in rural areas are so afraid of that they come running out of their homes with guns??
Help your dad understand that this idiot is trying to bate your family into doing something illegal etc. that he can "win" you guys over on. He must know how agitated your dad is over this and is trying to cause him even more agitation as the "neat freak" thing must have upset him. It's not your dad's fault, but no one will gain anything by stealing the flag or doing anything except ignoring this douche idiot and banding together with the other neighbors.
If there's one thing I've learned in my 52 years of living in different situations is that there's always one trouble-maker no one can stand, but unless you communicate calmly with other neighbors, others may not realize it.
In my case, I had a sociopath who had served time in prison beside me and he was hell. I mentioned this to others who had similar problems with the guy, so we ended outnumbering him and all our complaints to the complex manager got the guy booted out!
Your dad just cannot let this idiot get to him. If this can't be avoided, then moving may be an option you'd want to consider for him.
Oh R70, most of the time they're not really afraid of anything.... they just love an excuse to grab their guns and wave them around.
Get two dogs: a big one and a small yappy one.
In agreement about contacting the police: again- go with your dad and explain your concerns. I would focus on this being an issue of AGE discrimination. It will throw them off.
You're all concerned because there are other elderly folks in the neighborhood.
Make it all about: these guys don't respect the elderly--almost gave your dad a heart attack with that rifle. Ask the HOA if they could form a committee that protects/meets to discuss issues regarding those 60 and older. suggest that this age group must be kept safe. perhaps the HOA could assist the elderly with firearm instruction so that they will feel less vulnerable--i'm saying this tongue-in-cheek--but not really. if you hit on age discrimination, he'll have more numbers and what are the good ole boys gonna do? Admit it's racial bias? Sorry this is so long.
And to the moron who asked if persons of color experience frequent discrimination-- I'm Latin American and the answer is yes.
I like R81's advice. Either that .. or kill the SOB.
I just had to call the police on a neighbor who was beating the living hell out of a boy in the middle of the road. This happened at midnight. I yelled at her when she started kicking the boy and he ran into the back yard.
None of my other neighbors came out of their houses or called the police. That boy was being beaten and kicked and I was the only person to intervene. And I don't even live on the same street but I could hear the boy screaming for a good five minutes before I went outside to see what was going on.
OP, this is how much people care these days. I wish I had an answer for you.
[quote]I wonder what people in rural areas are so afraid of that they come running out of their homes with guns??
City people forget that In small towns and rural areas everybody knows everybody. They even know the cops names (and their families)
If you're familiar or expected, there won't be a gun.
But there's really no reason for a random stranger to be approaching their house in the middle of nowhere.
The gun is a message to a stranger not to fuck with them.
Better safe than sorry.
R41: Heard of dog whistles? The Confederate flag is not even a dog whistle -- it is a dog siren.
Displaying that flag is racist. The Civil War was fought and won to eliminate slavery. Someone who flies that flag doesn't give a shit. He is celebrating the era when black people were treated as inferior beings.
No rational black person would be be comfortable seeing the flag displayed.
Here's a rule of thumb. When a group has less power and wealth than a dominate group, women as opposed to men, immigrants to citizens, GLBT to straights, blacks to whites, it is better for the dominate group to avoid terms and actions the less powerful group would find offensive.
Also, if the weaker group use a term among themselves, that isn't permission for the more powerful group to use it. Women can say they are having a girls' night out.
Simple courtesy. Reduces tension.
Tons of great legal and common sense advice being given on this thread!
To add to r84's point, often LEOs are too far away to be useful.
You have to fend for yourself to a certain extent.
I thought of you this morning when I saw the local news down here in South Florida. A shoot out between neighbors because of a dispute.
R85, I never, ever realized that the Confederate flag could be considered at all racist. I've been in Country music bars in LA that had the flag as a decoration. I know I'm not the only one who is misinformed but I'm sure your Dad's neighbor is purposely acting like a troll.
Here's my thought, the OP's father has OCD like was said earlier in the thread.
The flag is probably there to bait the guy, like was said earlier in the thread.
EVERYONE has neighbors they hate, everyone, but you don't go up to them, period, you stay away. Your father wants to CONFRONT them, wrong tactic. Stay IN your borders, don't go over there, period.
Op here. I convinced my father to do nothing. The flag is still there, and my dad complains about it every time I talk to him. I called the hoa, but they told me that there is nothing that they can do. Im sure this isnt the end of the story...we are just waiting to see what happens next. My dad probably does have OCD, but he didn't when he was younger. It happens to a lot of older people who don't really leave the house anymore, or have a lot of outside contact with others. His life revolves around his home.
R92, Just came back from another mock jury session where I was paid for my analysis. Bottom line, there's legality and then there's morality.
In many situations there's a huge grey area.
Those that have unlimited funds (Scientology) love to sue for anything and everything. Complaining makes some feel better but does it really accomplish all that much?
Police will tell you to stay out of a troll's way and do nothing but ignore the jerk, because even if the law is on your side, to say nothing of morality, the potential repercussions are too serious, especially for the elderly.
maybe he could invite the neighbor over for dinner. say that they got off on the wrong foot and that it's ridiculous to have a beef with your neighbor over nothing. they may find they have something in common.
[quote] they may find they have something in common.
They both hate fags? Jews?
R94, The neighbor would only use the kind dinner invite as a way to further insult and condemn his elderly neighbor, perhaps to the others in the neighborhood.
Extreme racists, like others who are verbally homophobic, anti-semitic, misogynistic, etc, are incredibly angry, even mentally ill, people. They're all looking to blame their misery on someone or something else, rather than look for realistic solutions.
The only thing that I could possibly say in their defense is that most come from physically very abusive families, where alcohol or/and drug abuse and extreme neglect is the norm.
I am white in a town 85% black. I have total empathy for the black man in this case vs. the redneck. I have only one answer: move and sell the house to someone who will be a neighbor from hell to the rednecks. You cannot reason with stupid. Your dad is too old to have to deal with this crap. In my town all or most of the white people moved when they got new black neighbors because their neighbors family members and friends started breaking in to the white family. Property values went down 40%. People are tribal and need to live with people of similar values, not necessarily same color.
R97 I disagree that people "need to live with people of similar values" because the "values" this neighbor has are ones of bullying/hate/discrimination which are more like anti-values. I think taking what R94 said to apply to the OTHER neighbors -- making friends, inviting them together can form a stronger, better-valued neighborhood with the bully/racist becoming the stand-out minority.
PS OP -- you did the right thing by convincing your dad to do nothing against the idiot neighbors though as clearly he was baiting your dad. Is it possible for you to help your dad not only get to know the good neighbors etc., but also maybe play cards or do another activity at a seniors center or something at least once a week? And/or you taking him out bowling (I know, I know), but something he enjoys the two of you could do together. Just a thought and good on you so far!!
It doesn't seem like racism; it seems like a HOA thing. People will become violent and highly irrational if you report violations to the HOA. Just don't do it.
[quote]Another thing: find the guy's name--you can find out online--and just take a look to see if he's had any problems with the law before.
For that matter, if you have a friend who can run a background check (or can afford to have a background check run on the neighbor), you can see if he's got any outstanding warrants. For example, if he's got a felony conviction, he's probably not permitted to own a gun.
You can look that up yourself on your city's Clerk of Courts page, civil and criminal.
I hope it works out for your father, this is ridiculous to be harassed at his age, yet.