Around forty people gathered in front of the Providence Place Mall near CVS to protest the police shooting of Joseph Santos and Christine Demers on Thursday. Santos was killed, Demers is in the hospital in critical condition. Santos and Demers, who were in a white pickup truck with heavily tinted windows, were shot at over 40 times by officers from the Providence Police Department (PPD) and the Rhode Island State Police (RISP).
The protesters marched from the mall to the Providence Public Safety Complex chanting “Justice for Joey!” Officers from the PPD escorted the marchers.
The PPD held a press conference on Friday insisting that the killing was justified in the interest of public and officer safety. Many Providence residents feel otherwise. Some spoke out before and after the march.
“The recent actions by the Providence Police have shocked the community,” said Jamie, who helped organize the protest and march. “Our residents no longer feel safe in this community. The day they shot over 40 rounds into Joseph Santos’ car they put many innocent bystanders at risk. They didn’t know who was in the car. They could have shot a child. They all had their guns out, fingers on the trigger, yet not one officer that was on the scene took the time to think of any other option. These are the men that protect and serve our community. Their reckless behavior endangered many people on the highway that day and it’s completely unacceptable. No warning shots, no shooting at the tires, no spike strips. Deadly force was their only option?
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Another speaker, Rich, met a 16-year old Joseph Santos and has known him for over 15 years. “Everybody has taken to social media saying, ‘If they did this then that wouldn’t have happened, if he did that, that wouldn’t have happened…’ For me, I’m just here mourning the loss of a human being and a friend and somebody who did not deserve to be killed. I’m more sad than angry right now.”
The PPD, RISP and the Rhode Island Attorney General‘s office continue to investigate the shooting.
Here’s a short snippet of the march:
Here’s all the video of the speakers: