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Civil Rights

The rally for Black lives gets loud in Barrington



It is about my family, it is about my friends, it is about my life and it is about humanity and the future…

Just over 100 people gathered at Barrington Congregational Church before marching and chanting their way to the Barrington Town Hall in celebration of Black lives and against racism and police brutality. Barrington Town Manager Jim Cunha flew a Black Lives Matter flag on the town hall flagpole in anticipation of the event.

This isn’t the first Black Lives Matter event in the town. In June over 1200 people lined County Road, in a silent vigil for Black lives spaced out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been other silent vigils as well. In August, Black Lives Matter Rhode Island led a protest outside the Barrington home of Richard Gordon, who is being charged with the crimes of simple assault and disorderly conduct for his racially motivated attack against his neighbor, Bahram Pahlavi. The Rhode Island Attorney General is treating the assault as a hate crime.

Saturday’s protest was very different. Far from a silent vigil, this march was filled with loud chants and a speaking program designed to challenge Barrington to confront both past and present racism. After marching along County Road the protest stopped in the street for a few minutes, interrupting traffic as people chanted and took a knee.

“Barrington is comfortable with these ‘silent’ protests,” wrote organizers Elikapeka Torres, Mel Bynam and Jessica Garcia ahead of the event, while noting that their protest will not be silent. “We need to educate those outside of urban areas that this is indeed an issue. These are precious human lives we are talking about here and these racial injustices need to be met.”

“I am not part of an organization, but this movement means everything to me said Torres, speaking to the crowd. “It is about my family, it is about my friends, it is about my life and it is about humanity and the future…”

The speaking portion included music, poetry, spoken word, a couple of politicians, religious leaders and activists.

Here’s video of the march, and the actions that happened in the street, followed by all the speakers:

Bella and Randy Noka, of the Narragansett Tribe opened the speaking portion of the event with a blessing and a land acknowledgement:

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Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee:

Poetry and music from Christopher Johnson and Big Lux:

Reverend David Nunez:

Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman:

Music from Dave Perolman:

Activist Joshua Franco:

Corey Jones, Political Director of the Black Lives Matter RI PAC:

Mark Fisher, Senior Director of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island:

Pastor Carl Jefferson:

Music from B Mor 7:

Activist Enrique Sanchez:

Organizer Mel Bynam and her husband Christopher Bynam:

Poetry from Barrington Town Councilmember Jacob Brier:

Music from Katherine Quinn:

Spoken word from Christopher Johnson:

Organizer Elikapeka Torres:

Organizers Mel Bynam and Jessica Garcia:

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.