“Police brutality has always been here, and the inhumane acts, due to racism, have always been here…“
Around two hundred people gathered at the Rhode Island State House for an eight minute 42 second sit in in memory of George Floyd, who was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis in May. Since Floyd’s death, the national movement for Black Lives and against police brutality has amplified, with protests around the world and now there are calls for defunding and dismantling the police nationwide.
But many engaged in protest feel that their concerns are not being addressed here in Rhode Island.
Uprise reporter Will James live streamed the event:
“I can no longer come to these protests any more,” said Dakota, one of the speakers. “This is the last one you’ll see me at. And I’m not saying you won’t see me at a riot, or something else right now, but I can’t come up here and be peaceful when the people that are getting paid to protect me won’t even try to fool me and let me think that they’re on my side.”
Walker was referring to the dozen or so State and Capitol Police that occupied the upper steps of the south side of the State House, who refused to acknowledge him when he asked them to raise a fist in support of Black lives. At many recent protests outside the State House, the top steps of the south lawn have been off-limit to protesters.
Can you help us?
Funding for our reporting relies entirely on the generosity of readers like you. Our independence allows us to write stories that hold RI state and local government officials accountable. All of our stories are free and available to everyone. But your support is essential to keeping Steve and Will on the beat, covering the costs of reporting many stories in a single day. If you are able to, please support Uprise RI. Every contribution, big or small is so valuable to us. You provide the motivation and financial support to keep doing what we do. Thank you.
Still this was a peaceful protest, organized by Elikapeka “Liz” Torres, who arranged for Community Music Works‘ String Quartet to play while people sat or laid down on the steps. The event at the State House was preceded by a march from Burnside Park to the State House.
The protest was originally planned for Tuesday, but was rescheduled due to the passing storms. Torres filled the time after the march with speeches, spoken word, rap and poetry.
“Police brutality has always been here, and the inhumane acts, due to racism, have always been here,” said Torres, who is mixed race and works as a nurse. She advocates strongly for her patients and human rights. “I have been questioned in the past about why I care so much about these patients, and my response has always been, ‘They’re human.'”
Reverend Jacob blessed the event:
Torres read her poem:
The eight minute 46 second sit-in:
Mark Fisher, senior director of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island:
Corey Jones, political director of the BLM RI PAC:
Ashley, with some spoken word:
B Mor 7 performed a song:
Ricio, with poetry and powerful words:
Shaffany shares her poetry and thoughts:
Torres closes the event out: