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Rhode Island Public Defender’s office marches for George Floyd and Black Lives

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There have been a number of marches already to the State House, I don’t think anybody’s gone to the Court House yet, so I thought that would be appropriate given that most of us are lawyers, law students and what not.


Just after 5pm on Monday evening around 100 people, mostly members of the Rhode Island Public Defender (RIDP) office, but also some from the community, including people from the Nonviolence Institute, marched from the Public Defender offices on Pine Street to the Court House on South Main Street.

“The Rhode Island Office of the Public Defender today joined Public Defender agencies across the country in a rally call for justice in honor of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter cause,” said Acting Public Defender Matthew Toro. “The responsibility of systemic reforms, demanded for and needed, does not end solely with changes in city police department’s use of force policies. These responsibilities do not lay at the feet of only Mayors and Police Chiefs. Prosecutors, Defenders, Judges and administrators also must take a comprehensive look at systems, policies and practices in place that contribute to the racial and ethnic disproportionate minority contact within the criminal justice system as a whole. We stand ready to engage with all criminal justice stakeholders and our elected officials to contribute to this essential effort. We decided to, after work today, walk over and take a knee for about nine minutes.”

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Collin Geiselman, who serves as Chief of the Trial Division for the RIPD, led the march.

“I noticed that public defenders around the country had chosen today as a day to march for Black Lives Matter and George Floyd,” said Geiselman. “I’ve seen in a few different cities and states already today that some marches have already taken place, some marching to their state house and some marching to courthouses. There have been a number of marches already to the State House, I don’t think anybody’s gone to the Court House yet, so I thought that would be appropriate given that most of us are lawyers, law students and what not.”

As they marched, there was some chanting, and many held signs. After taking the knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the crowd dispersed peacefully.

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.

atomicsteve@gmail.com