The Young Democrats of Rhode Island stand with the many groups including Corruption-Free Rhode Island, Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, Rhode Island National Organization for Women, and Rhode Island Latino Political Action Committee that have called for the end of Nicholas Mattiello’s tenure as Speaker of the House of Representatives. The recent coverage of Speaker Mattiello’s handling of sexual harassment claims made against Chair of Judiciary, Cale Keable, only provides further evidence that Rhode Island needs new leadership in its House of Representatives. We stand in support of Representative Katherine Kazarian and applaud her courage, and condemn Chair Keable’s harassment. There is a pervasive culture of silencing, blaming, and shaming victims that occurs regularly at the Rhode Island State House. This hostile culture is enforced by Speaker Mattiello’s staff, and must come to an end with new leadership.
Young advocates, organizers, or citizens who have spent any amount of time at the State House advocating for legislation or attending political meetings, recognize that a culture of silence persists. Whether vocalizing dissent in a hearing room or on social media, young people who speak up face a multitude of barriers from intimidation to outright harassment within our current State House’s political culture, particularly within the House of Representatives. This is intended to turn young people away from engaging in politics, or outright punish those who dissent. Representative Kazarian’s story is unfortunately too familiar for so many young women and men who go up to the State House with the best intentions.
We stand in solidarity with the many Representatives, organizations, and citizens who are calling for an end to the culture of harassment and silence in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. Whether Speaker Mattiello wins or loses on November 6th, we implore all representatives to support a leader who will put an end to this culture of silence, and who will foster transparency. We need a speaker who will treat women equitably, who will allow debate and dissent, and take meaningful action when members of the chamber or the public come forward with evidence or allegations of harassment. Speaker Mattiello has proven himself incapable of these things.
This statement is jointly signed by the board of the Young Democrats of Rhode Island, an organization dedicated to promoting the voices and values of young people in RI.
–Michael Beauregard, President
–Laufton Ascencao, Vice President
–Gabrielle Godino, Secretary-Treasurer
–Kavelle Christie, National Committee Person
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–Jordan Seaberry, National Committee Person
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[From a press release]