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Editorial & Opinion

The Uprising December 13, 2019

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UpriseRI is holding its semi-annual fundraiser, the Holiday Muckrakers Ball, at Wild Colonial Tavern, 250 South Water Street, in Providence Monday night from 5-9pm. Stop in and talk to fellow fans of the site, and I promise to only speak for a short time.

Stop by and say hi.

This week was heavy with stories related to immigration, but it was also a week when stories that first appeared on Uprise were picked up nationally, such as the controversy over who paid for Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg‘s fundraiser when he visited Providence and more on the chiropractor that Rhode Island Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello funneled millions of dollars to.

But first, let’s start with some immigration irony:

1a. Community Safety Survey in Central Falls indicates 98.4 percent feel negatively towards the Wyatt

Our state elected officials, Governor Gina Raimondo, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio are all very excited about bringing soccer to Pawtucket. Soccer, it seems, is the sport of the future. As WPRI/Channel 12 reporter Eli Sherman notes, changing demographics is shifting the public’s fancy from baseball to soccer. Sherman cites a Gallup poll that said, “Soccer and baseball show meaningful differences by age, with soccer appealing more to adults younger than 55 and baseball more to adults aged 55 and older.” Eli also talked to Central Falls City Solicitor and State House lobbyist Matt Jerzyk, who maintains a soccer blog.


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“Baseball is a legacy sport,” Jerzyk said. “Soccer is growing.”

Eli’s most important point is here:

“As Target 12 reported earlier this year, Central Falls, Providence and Pawtucket have the highest rate of foreign-born residents in Rhode Island. And The Nielsen Company estimates Hispanics accounted for 68 percent of United States soccer viewership in 2017.”

Maybe, as our state moves to cater to this new demographic, it would behoove us to remember that “foreign-born residents” and “Hispanics” have concerns in their lives other than soccer. Many come from mixed status families, meaning that some in the family have the documents needed to stay in the United States, and others are undocumented putting them at risk of deportation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

Here’s some results from a different survey:

“Out of the folks that were surveyed, about 51.4 percent worry about immigration enforcement in their community,” said Yanine Castedo, community organizer for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England and a member of the Immigrant Coalition of Rhode Island. “It doesn’t indicate if the fear was for themselves or for their family members. But again, this fear does live in our communities and we can’t report whether it’s heightened or not based off of what has happened since 2016 but we can admit that ICE has been weaponized a little bit in a few communities to instill fear that there is someone that may come and get you.“

It’s hard to see folks bringing their family to a Sunday afternoon soccer match if they fear the ICE agents waiting at the gates, waiting to deport the undocumented parents of American citizen children. It’s hard to imagine a family driving to see a game in Pawtucket if they are not legally able to get driver’s licenses in Rhode Island, because of their documentation status. And it’s hard to present Rhode Island as a welcoming state when we allow prisons to operate at a profit based on how many people they can lock up, such as is the case at the Wyatt Detention Facility right now.

This is something the Rhode Island General Assembly and Governor Raimondo should think about as we enter the new legislative session, and something Brett Johnson, principal of Fortuitous Partners should be worried about as he seeks to find investors for his new stadium and mixed use housing complexes.


1b. Never Again Action returns to the Wyatt Detention Facility

Never Again Action arranged three protests across the United States on Tuesday:

  • In Central Falls, Rhode Island, 400 protesters blocked the only driveways allowing entry or exit to the Wyatt Detention Center for about two hours, demanding an end to the prison’s contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and ICE’s inhumane treatment of immigrants in Rhode Island. There are currently more than 100 ICE detainees at the Wyatt Detention Center.
  • In Kansas City, Missouri, seven people were arrested in a protest outside of UMB Bank, which represents the bondholders of Wyatt Detention Facility. UMB is suing the city of Central Falls for $130,000,000 to keep the Wyatt’s contract with ICE in place. In anticipation of Tuesday’s protest, UMB closed their office.
  • In San Diego, California six doctors and Jewish allies were arrested outside the United States Customs and Border Protection San Diego Headquarters after demonstrating in support of a group of physicians from Doctors for Camp Closures, Families Belong Together, and Jewish Action San Diego, who just yesterday were barred from providing flu vaccines to detainees in the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station.

1c. AMOR disrupts State Treasurer meeting over State’s continued business with Wyatt bondholders

Activists from AMOR (Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance) today interrupted a meeting of the Rhode Island State Investment Commission to deliver a message to Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner about Rhode Island’s business dealings with the bondholders of the Wyatt Detention Facility, specifically the largest bondholder, Invesco. Invesco, is that largest investor in the Wyatt, and with other investors grouped together by UMB Bank in Kansas City, Missouri, is suing the City of Central Falls, Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, members of the Central Falls City Council, and the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation (CFDFC) board for $130M.

Treasurer Magaziner has agreed to meet with AMOR and discus what can be done.

1d. Sherrie Andre goes on trial in January for standing up to Sheriff Hodgson and ICE – and needs your help

An interview with activist Sherrie Andre, who was arrested while protesting Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson and the 287(g) and IGSA agreements that allow some local law enforcement agencies to act as federal immigration officials and get paid to house undocumented detainees.

Sherrie goes on trial in January. Read her story and think about helping her.

UpriseRI cover Andre’s arrest here:


2. Butler Hospital workers picket for patient safety and to protect good jobs

Workers at Butler Hospital, a Care New England (CNE) facility, were joined by allies as they picketed on on Elmgrove Avenue in Providence to address the patient safety concerns of frontline staff and to call on the hospital to stop violating labor law.

The union, SEIU 1199, says that Butler Hospital has been committing ‘unfair labor practices’ by attempting to deny new workers good union jobs and denying existing workers access to benefits they have earned. For months Butler management has been ignoring the patient safety concerns of frontline staff. Moreover, says the union, Butler management has been denying benefits to its workforce in defiance of the collective bargaining agreement.

“We are standing up for patient safety and protecting our good union jobs so that we can protect the high quality of care, staying true to the mission of the Hospital,” said Colleen McGovern, a Mental Health Worker at Butler.

3. Representative Walsh joins the Rhode Island Political Cooperative as the group announce new candidates and policy proposals

The Rhode Island Political Cooperative announced that three other candidates have joined the organization: Adamaris Villar running for Central Falls City Council Ward 2, Lenny Cioe running for Senate District 4, and Representative Moira Walsh (Democrat, District 3, Providence), bringing its total number of candidates to 17.

“I joined the Co-op because I wanted to be part of a real community with similar views,” said Walsh. “I was tired of feeling like an outcast merely for believing in the importance of the national Democratic Party platform. The Co-op allows me the support system and help that I had always hoped to get from my party.”

Moira Walsh

4. The next UHIP? A flawed system is endangering Rhode Island’s homeless

UpriseRI was proud to co-publish a piece by Deborah Marini, Loughlin Neuert and Peder Schaefer discussing the Coordinated Entry System (CES) which appears to be keeping homeless people from securing housing, and keeps families on the street.

“It’s November, and we’re dealing with folks who are going to end up dying,” said Barbara Freitas, executive director of the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project (RIHAP). “It’s not, ‘they’re not going to get in for a few days and it’s no big deal.’ People are going to die.”

5. Neighborhood groups and politicians strongly support Providence’s Climate Justice Plan

The Providence Coalition of Neighborhood Associations (PCNA) (representing 19 densely populated neighborhoods from across the city) would like to wholeheartedly thank and applaud the Mayor, the City of Providence, as well as the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee (REJC) for their leadership and commitment to protecting frontline communities that are closest to and most impacted by environmental pollutants.

“Air and traffic pollution in and around Allens Avenue and the Port of Providence is ‘out of control.’” said Linda Perri, President, Washington Park Neighborhood Association. “Increased truck traffic has grown exponentially to create a very serious health and structural safety issue that needs to be addressed immediately. This issue, as well as other pending projects here overwhelm the Washington Park residents and the city as a whole. The city should be instituting a moratorium on any further toxic enterprises coming to this Allens Avenue and Port location and concentrate on ‘cleaner and greener’ businesses here before we reach the point of no return. Providence is getting the reputation of being pollution friendly as opposed to tech business-friendly. We need to promote clean business and discourage this ‘old way’ of creating revenue. In the long run it’s just not worth it!”


6. Did Pete Buttigieg Get Hidden Campaign Support From a Real-Estate Developer?

Marcia Brown at the American Prospect looks into a story broken here on UpriseRI first, writing, “An allegation of a campaign finance violation in Rhode Island highlights Buttigieg’s backsliding on campaign finance transparency.”


7. The Curious Case of the Concussion Chiropractor

Brian Bergstein at Elemental looks into a story broken here on UpriseRI first, writing, “Victor Pedro got acclaim and state funding for his unusual method of treating brain injuries. There’s a lack of evidence that it works, and medical experts are outraged. But his patients insist he’s cured them. Here’s how that’s possible.”


8. What Green Costs

Local activist Thea Riofrancos is an assistant professor of political science at Providence College. Here she writes about the terrifying effects of extractivist capitalism and its effect on Chile as the green economy takes off.

See more of Riofrancos talking about the need for a Green New Deal here: A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal


9. ACLU

10. The Bartholomewtown Podcast

11. Picture of the week:

Maybe the first labor picket featuring the Grinch and a goat.

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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade. atomicsteve@gmail.com