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Man allegedly targeted family of color with banana peels

Robert A. Ivarson, 49, was led out of Concord District Court on Tuesday after being arraigned on charges of violating his neighbors’ civil rights and criminal harassment.WBZ News/Boston Globe

A Lexington man with a criminal history involving guns and domestic assault was arrested Saturday for repeatedly tossing banana peels onto the property of a family of color who lives on his street, according to police.

Robert A. Ivarson, 49, was under surveillance when he threw the peels onto his neighbor’s driveway on Tarbell Avenue on three consecutive mornings last week, according to a Lexington police report. The victims had reported seeing 30 to 40 peels outside their home over the past year.

District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office on Tuesday described the case as “a series of allegedly racially motivated incidents,” after Ivarson was arraigned in Concord District Court on charges of violating his neighbors’ civil rights and criminal harassment.


A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf, and he was ordered held on $10,000 cash bail. His lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Ivarson denied any malicious intent when he spoke with officers at the Lexington police station, claiming he walks daily for exercise and tosses banana peels at random along his route, according to the report.

He also told police that he helped the family of color, who he believed were Haitian or Dominican, with leaf bags two years ago, and that he is “friendly with a black person who lives” nearby, the report said.

Ivarson could not explain his behavior on the morning of Dec. 19, when he stepped off his property with a “totally consumed banana in his hand,” and police “could see the peel dangling in his right [hand] as he crossed the street and approached his neighbor’s driveway . . . and throw it deep into their driveway,” the report said.

He had his face partially covered by a hoodie whenever he threw the peels, and he tossed them in the immediate vicinity of his neighbors’ driveway, making “the effort to cause them to land on this specific property,” the filing said.


In addition, Ivarson previously told an officer working a detail on Tarbell Avenue that his neighbors across the street were “a black family that he claimed was ‘Section 8’ and that they had nice cars for Section 8 people,” the report said.

After the arrest, a woman who lives in the targeted home told investigators that her 11-year-old daughter now recognizes Ivarson as the man who regularly talks to other kids at her bus stop, but only stares at her, according to the report. The girl is “quite afraid of the situation now,” the report said.

Ivarson lives with his parents, who told police Saturday that their son needs help but refuses to see a doctor.

Asked if Ivarson had weapons in his room, his father said he did not know, adding that his son’s room has been locked for 20 years, and he “would be afraid to go in there,” the report said.

Ivarson’s prior interactions with police include a 2014 incident when he told a woman walking her dog in a local park that he was trapping dogs and had a “propensity for bows and arrows,” according to the report.

He also had “numerous firearms” when police went to his home in 1994 to investigate a report that he fired a rifle, and again the following year when his parents told officers that he was out of control and possessed a handgun that was ultimately taken from him, the report said.


Ivarson also assaulted his then-wife during a domestic disturbance in 1997, police said.

He is due back in court on Feb. 6.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.