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Editorial & Opinion

Representative Mike Chippendale – Not the Public Servant he professes to be



There are few reasons that District 40, the sleepy rural area of Foster, Glocester and Coventry, would create national headlines. Ridiculing a survivor of a mass murder is one of them. On April 23rd it is safe to say that Representative Mike Chippendale’s tweet went viral. The Tweet has been picked up by the Associated Press, making it a national embarrassment.

This tweet was sent out @Emma4Change and @Smithwessoncorp. Emma is Emma Gonzalez, the 19 year old survivor of the Parkland High School mass murder. The tweet, from a high ranking Rhode Island Republican who is chair of Allan Fung for Governor election committee was immature and completely disrespectful to a survivor of gun violence.  Mayor Allan Fung and Governor Gina Raimondo both requested that Chippendale apologize. His first crack at it was a non-apologetic response on Facebook:

His second crack at it was just as bad:

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“Yesterday it was inappropriate for me to call someone a dummy on Twitter, and I’m sorry that I did – but I will not apologize for zealously defending the 2nd Amendment.”

He could not even mention Emma’s name!

Someone needs to remind the esteemed District 40 Representative that when you send out a tweet to the 1596 people that follow you and the 889 people that you follow- those people also have followers. Emma has 1.57 MILLION followers- tens of thousands of whom could have seen that tweet before it was deleted. And guess what Representative? Not everyone knows that you were just “verbally jousting in a playful manner”.

It also seems that the Representative can’t accept “verbal jousting” or even contrary opinions when they come his way as many people, including myself, a constituent, are blocked from his social media feeds both on Facebook and Twitter. And, as for me, emails and calls are never returned. Others blocked include members of the media and many in the progressive movement. As a so called “Public Serven​t You can Rely On,” we the people deserve better.

Lauren Niedel is currently a member of the RI Democratic State Committee - serving her 2nd term on the Platform Committee. She has been reelected for 2018-2022 session. She was also the State contact and delegate for the Bernie 2016 campaign.