With calls of “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” and other chants, around 150 mostly young people marched on the Providence Public Safety complex Saturday night as part of a protest that was equal parts solidarity with Portland, Oregon, and a reaction to arrests on Thursday night of two protesters in Providence. The march was also a call to Defund the Police, and allocate the money to the benefit of the community.
Between four and seven people were arrested, according to various reports.
In Portland, continuing protests against police violence and for Black Lives have escalated, with nightly clashes, violence and arrests, and the recent addition of unwanted Federal troops in the city, per order of President Donald Trump. In Providence on Thursday night, in the wake of a cancelled “Defend, not Defund” rally in support of the Police, two protesters, Najeli Rodriguez and Jonas Pierre, were arrested outside the Providence Public Safety complex. Both were out on bail on Friday, Rodriguez only after a concerted effort by the community to secure her release.
The protest was met by police in riot gear, many carrying sticks and plastic shields. At the intersection of John J Partington Way and Washington Street the protesters blocked traffic. A car was parked in the intersection and the police formed a line, shouting at protesters to move. The driver of the vehicle appears to have been arrested. Protesters locked arms, and between two and four arrests were made. Protesters backed away from the intersection and moved further up John J Partington Way to the Westminster Street intersection, before marching into South Providence, ultimately up Broad St and then cutting over to Elmwood Avenue, where the second major confrontation with the police occurred.
The march through South Providence was greeted with cheers from most people in the neighborhood. Some residents left their homes and their vehicles to cheer the protesters, or to join in with the march. On Elmwood Avenue, near Whitmarsh Street, there was an altercation of some sort between protesters and what was said to be a police officer in an unmarked vehicle that resulted in nearly a dozen Providence Police vehicles zooming into the area.
When the first three police vehicles arrived, protesters, linked arm in arm, formed a line. The police vehicles pulled very close to the protesters, revving their engines and pulling forward in an aggressive way, but the protesters sat down rather than break ranks. The standoff lasted around ten minutes, with many from the local community watching, but the protesters moved on without major incident.
The march continued until it dispersed at shortly before 11pm near the high schools on Westminster Street.
UpriseRI reporter Will James provided a live stream on Facebook: