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Rhode Island Democratic Party Senate fundraiser protested by pro-choice activists



The chanting, honking horns of automobiles and the Extraordinary Rendition Band was almost deafening outside Maria’s Cucina, a restaurant of Federal Hill where Democratic Party Senate Leadership held a fundraiser and rubbed elbows with corporate lobbyists for cash donations. Starting at six and lasting over two hours, pro-choice advocates, organized by The Womxn Project, pressured Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (Democrat, District 4, Providence) to make good on his promise to bring legislation that will codify Roe v Wade into Rhode Island State law.

The Rhode Island House long ago passed a version of the bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee failed to pass the bill after Senator Stephen Archambault (Democrat, District 22, Smithfield, Johnston, North Providence) reversed a campaign promise and voted the bill down.

The Womxn Project notes that Senators Michael McCaffrey (Democrat, District 29, Warwick), Leonidas Raptakis (Democrat, District 33, East Greenwich) and Archambault made statements in support of Roe and said that they would support making the protections under Roe state law. “They said this to get elected and now they are turning their backs on the women of Rhode Island,” writes The Womxn Project. “This is simply unacceptable.”

“The goal of this event is to make it clear that we expect legislation that will TRULY protect our rights this year and that we are done waiting,” said The Womxn Project co-director Jordan Hevenor. “We need action at every level to get this done. The stakes are just too high when it comes to the health and rights of women in our state.”

“For us, this is not about politics: it’s about our health and our ability to control our own futures,” said The Womxn Project co-director Jocelyn Foye. “We believe that people should be able to get an abortion without barriers or judgment. Protecting abortion access means we control our own futures. It’s time to pass a bill that ensures in Rhode Island that we TRULY protect the right to abortion.”

Stephen Archambault entering the event

The videos and picture below provide a flavor of the event. There is another protest planned for Tuesday, May 28, from 5:30-8pm at Ladder 133, 133 Douglas Ave in Providence where Archambault is holding his own fundraiser. Presumably Archambault, who represents Smithfield, Johnston, and North Providence, is holding a fundraiser in Providence to get himself some of the same lobbyist cash the Senate Democrats scored last night at Maria Cucina.

In the first video, it’s still early, an the protest is just getting underway:

Things jumped up a notch when the Extraordinary Rendition Bad arrived. The noise from the chanting and the band was easily enough to be heard inside the restaurant where Senate Democrats partied with lobbyists. Eventually noise complaints from neighbors prompted the Providence Police Department to shut the band down. All such complaints should be addressed to the Senate Democrats.

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More music and chanting. “When reproductive rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.”

One of the more interesting lobbyist attendees was Barth Bracy, leader of Rhode Island Right to Life, an anti-choice advocacy group. That’s him in the picture at the top of this post, entering the event from the right.

This last video is from the end of the evening, as Democratic Party Senators and lobbyists left the event. Sorry for the quality of the video, but Senator Archambault is outside talking to two other people.

A woman yelled to the Archambault that her mother would have died were it not for the availability of a late term abortion. Archambault ignored her.

“See you on Tuesday!” chanted the crowd to Archambault.

At one point during the protest, Senate Democrats such as Archambault, McCaffrey, Frank Lombardi (Democrat, District 26, Cranston) and Donna Nesselbush (Democrat, District 15, Pawtucket) stepped outside for cigars. Lombardi is staunchly anti-choice and anti-marriage equality.

That first picture is Archambault, looking out the window of the restaurant at the protest he facilitated.

Pictures from the event:

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.

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