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Raimondo faces questions about police mask wearing and use of force



During a time though, that there’s a pandemic and a virus that’s going around that attacks the respiratory system, wouldn’t you agree that police should be using tear gas and chemical agents absolutely last?

Brooklyn Toussaint is the founder and director of PROV X, a group dedicated to civil rights and the abolition of the police, and as of today she is an independent journalist. Toussaint attended Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo‘s press conference on Wednesday, to ask a series of questions about police use of force, white nationalism, and the ongoing issue of police officers not wearing masks.

You can watch the interaction here, and read a transcript of the discussion below.

Brooklyn Toussaint: I know that you received a lot of notifications to your office about tear gas or chemical agents being used on protesters. I would like to hear you address that. And secondly, while the President of the United States is basically endorsing the Proud Boys and white nationalists, can you condemn them, especially the ones here in Providence? Can you make a very clear statement going against the white nationalists?

Governor Raimondo: I appreciate you’re here. Even though you’re not a member of the press, I’m happy to answer the question… It’s beyond disturbing that the President would in any way, condone white nationalists and I condemn them in the strongest possible terms. There’s no place for it, period. And it’s to say it’s deeply disturbing that he would do that is an understatement. With respect to the State Police’s role, they’ve been supporting Providence from the beginning and I support them. Every use of pepper spray or any use of force is investigated and these will be investigated. That investigation will happen to see if [the use of chemical weapons was] founded. But by and large, State Police and Providence Police have worked well together to handle what’s been going on in the city.

Toussaint: During a time though, that there’s a pandemic and a virus that’s going around that attacks the respiratory system, wouldn’t you agree that police should be using tear gas and chemical agents absolutely last?

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Raimondo: I think that their use of force procedures are appropriate and as I said, they will be investigated as they all are, and these will be as well.

Toussaint: You’re putting a lot of the blame for COVID-19 cases on college students. However, on Atwells Avenue, there are a lot of people that are dying. The police block off the streets and they don’t wear masks and they stand very closely. What do you say about those people and how they’re adding to the spread of COVID as well?I

Raimondo: I would say that we’ve had excellent compliance by the troopers for masks. If they’re not wearing mask, they need to. I just called the mayor on Friday and asked if he could work with the folks in the Providence Police to increase their compliance with mass wearing. There’s no excuse for anybody not to wear a mask, period. And if they’re not, they have to try harder. The fact is, and I’m going to put the slide up, we have an issue with people who are 19 to 24. That’s not my opinion, that’s a fact. The outbreak at PC is a fact. It’s a problem. It’s the single, number one reason that we wound up on the travel restriction list for these other states. So, like, everybody has to wear their mask. Whether you’re on Federal Hill or whether you’re on Eaton Street, period. If they’re not, they need to, and nobody’s above the law. You know, the cops ought to be wearing their masks just as the governor, just as the president,

Toussaint: You started to CrushCOVID program to make sure that we’re trying to actually stop Covid – having state troopers not wearing their masks, you’re saying that they should be, but it’s obviously a fact – through the recordings from press – that isn’t happening.

Raimondo: You know we haven’t found a big problem with that, but I can look into it further. They’ve actually had very good compliance, but if they haven’t, they’ll have to get better.

Brooklyn Toussaint