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Providence Democratic Socialists stand against police violence

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Rhode Island must drastically change its priorities. We can start by cutting back on the authoritarian police force that so often terrorizes poor, black, and immigrant communities.


Providence DSA unequivocally supports the protests against police violence and racism that have swept the country. Only one of the four cops who killed George Floyd has been charged with a crime. [Update: Since the publication of this post, the other three officers have been charged.] This is unacceptable. We echo the demand of the national protests that all four must not only be charged but convicted. The cops responsible for murdering Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and David McAtee must also be brought to justice.

Over the past week, numerous videos have shown police indiscriminately assaulting and arresting peaceful protesters, bystanders, and the press. This is happening in both “red” and “blue” states. Armored vehicles patrol residential streets and military helicopters break up crowds. As American police and the National Guard behave like an occupying army, it’s more obvious than ever that they are not under meaningful civilian control.

State and city governments have spent large sums on militarized police and massive prisons to control their working-class populations. These same governments refuse to provide for their citizens’ basic needs, leaving people without wages or healthcare during a global pandemic. George Floyd allegedly paid a store clerk with a counterfeit $20 bill – for this, he was given a death sentence. It is no wonder that many people have reached a breaking point. 

Rhode Island is not exempt from this class war, which has always been instigated by elites. Governor Gina Raimondo talks about being “a white woman of privilege” and says “people like me need to do a lot more listening with humility.” But like many politicians and corporations who pose as supporters of Black Lives Matter, Raimondo and the General Assembly are themselves responsible for the ongoing destruction of black lives, overseeing brutal austerity for the poorest communities in Rhode Island. Working-class neighborhoods in South Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, and elsewhere are always the last to receive investment in schools and housing.

Rhode Island must drastically change its priorities. We can start by cutting back on the authoritarian police force that so often terrorizes poor, black, and immigrant communities. Providence DSA supports the following measures to reduce the unaccountable power of police:

  • Cut police funding in state and city budgets. The Rhode Island state budget allocates $35 million for a new police barracks at a time when the government is attempting to cut essential health and welfare services to fix the deficit. This is unacceptable.
  • Politicians must stop taking money from police unions. Elected leaders in Rhode Island should follow the example of the New York lawmakers who have pledged to give away all the money they’ve received from the police, and refuse to take any money in the future.  
  • Expel police unions from the AFL-CIO. It’s a stain on the honor of organized labor that police unions, which consistently protect abusive cops, are still permitted inside the AFL-CIO. We agree with UAW Local 2865 in California, who recently demanded that these unions be expelled from the labor movement. Unions should follow the example of the bus drivers in Minneapolis who refused to help police transport arrested protesters.
  • Remove cops from our schools. Minneapolis Public Schools are considering canceling all contracts with police departments. The ACLU of Rhode Island has two active lawsuits related to assaults by “school resource officers.” We support the resolution put forward by Providence City Council members Rachel Miller and Nirva LaFortune to remove these police from schools.

Providence DSA stands in solidarity with the many protesters – activists as well as ordinary Rhode Island residents – who are risking their safety to fight injustice. Wherever possible, we hope to provide material support. We encourage you to donate to the FANG Community Bail Fund.



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Below are the current state senators and representatives who have taken money from the police at some time, according to campaign finance records:

Governor Raimondo ($365)

Representatives:

  • Abney D-73 ($400)
  • Ackerman D-45 ($100)
  • Chippendale R-40 ($50)
  • Craven Sr. D-32 ($100)
  • Hull D-6 ($1,200)
  • Jacquard D-17 ($1,400)
  • Lima D-14 ($2,000)
  • Lombardi D-8 ($1,250)
  • Mattiello D-15 ($9,150)
  • McEntee D-33 ($125)
  • McKiernan D-7 ($500)
  • Messier D-62 ($300)
  • Millea D-16 ($700)
  • Morin D-49 ($125)
  • Ruggiero D-74 ($100)
  • Shanley D-24 ($600)
  • Shekarchi D-23 ($1,775)
  • Ucci D-42 ($100)
  • Williams D-9 ($325)

Senators

  • Archambault ($400)
  • Armour Coyne ($950)
  • Ciccone ($250.00)
  • Felag Jr ($275)
  • Gallo ($500)
  • Lombardi ($1,250)
  • McCaffrey ($2,225)
  • Raptakis ($300)
  • Ruggerio ($3,075)

ProvDSA is a local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest socialist organization in the United States. DSA members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly democratic socialist presence in American communities and politics. At the root of our socialism is a profound commitment to democracy, as means and end. As we are unlikely to see an immediate end to capitalism tomorrow, DSA fights for reforms today that will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people, such as stopping utility shutoffs and implementing a Percentage Income Payment Plan. Our vision is of a society in which people have a real voice in the choices and relationships that affect the entirety of our lives. We call this vision democratic socialism — a vision of a more free, democratic and humane society.