“We cleaned up trash around the city, along Broad Street, Westminster, and Hartford Ave, canvassing onlookers to hear their ideas about how taxpayer funds should be directed. We are not willing to wait for politicians to invest in our communities. We believe it is our duty to invest in communities ourselves. Throughout this pandemic, mutual aid has shown that everyday people can take care of each other.”
Hundreds of activists marched through Providence on Saturday collecting trash in garbage bags as part of a march to defund the police. ProvX, Tenant Network RI, ReclaimRI, and the Providence Democratic Socialists of America organized the Community Cleanup March as part of the campaign to defund the Providence police by 70%.
As the crowd marched from DelSesto Middle School to Broad St, they chanted “WAP – We’re Abolishing Police,” “we’re cleaning our streets to defund the police,” and “money for schools, not police.” The four organizations have been pushing for defunding the Providence police by 70%, cutting the Providence police workforce by 70%, and reinvesting the funds into community services like education, healthcare, and housing.
The march ended at Providence City Councilmember Carmen Castillo’s home. Castillo represents Ward 9. Activists asked the Castillo if she would vote to defund the police by 70%. The Councilwoman responded, “I don’t know about 70%, I need to do my research, but we need to cut their budget and their pensions…”
“A movement for Black and Brown lives must have a service component because of how much these communities are owed,” said organizer Anica Green. “We cleaned up trash around the city, along Broad Street, Westminster, and Hartford Ave, canvassing onlookers to hear their ideas about how taxpayer funds should be directed. We are not willing to wait for politicians to invest in our communities. We believe it is our duty to invest in communities ourselves. Throughout this pandemic, mutual aid has shown that everyday people can take care of each other.”
Nika Salazar, an organizer with the Providence Democratic Socialists of America and ReclaimRI, added, “this is a movement of love… As my friend Anica says, this is a spiritual movement. Yes, we are angry. Yes, are tired. But what are we fighting for? We are fighting for lives, for safety, for love. For Black and Indigenous and immigrant people. We are fighting for an end to police brutality and cycles of violence within our carceral systems. I want people to understand that when I say ‘Defund the Police,’ I say it because I love my community.”
[From a press release and original reporting]
Most of the videos below are from the live stream coverage of the event by UpriseRI reporter Will James:
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Anica Green at the start of the event:
Nika Salazar spoke about the need to invest in our communities, and also about her arrest on Friday as part of an eviction protest at the Garrahy Judicial Complex.
Will James talks to Anica Green during the pickup:
The other person arrested with Nika Salazar at the eviction protest talks about their experience:
Anica Green with a moving talk about her community, the aunt who inspired her, and her call for justice:
Amanda “Brooklyn” Toussaint:
Will James talking to people as the march to defund the police and clean the streets:
Najeli Rodriguez with Councilmember Castillo:
Live streams from Will James: