“We have to stand up as a community,” said Lock Arms for Peace founder Diana Garlington. “We’re not just burying a child. We’re burying all our children. Just because a child does not have our blood does not mean that child does not belong to us…“
Lock Arms for Peace held its monthly gathering on Smith Street Saturday evening, near the spot where a shooting occurred over three weeks ago and not too far from a fatal shooting at Douglas Avenue and Orms Street. This week Providence marked it’s 15th homicide of the year with the shooting death of Dante Mann, amid rising tensions between the policy and various community groups over a separate incident involving a police cruiser/moped impact that sent 24-year old Jhamal Gonsalves into a coma and into the hospital.
Lock Arms for Peace gathers monthly to join in community and advocate for a stop to the violence and for the police to devote more time to solving the over 100 unsolved homicides in Providence that have occurred since 2000.
UpriseRI joined the gathering in progress, as gun safety activist Giovanna Rodriguez was addressing the crowd. She spoke about having to raise children of color to be extra cautious around police officers due to racial profiling. “That is not normal. That is not okay,” said Rodriguez.
“A young man being run over by a police officer is not okay,” continued Rodriguez. “These people and these officers work for us… At some point we have to be listened to and taken seriously…”
Lock Arms for Peace was founded by Diana Garlington, whose daughter Essence was lost to gun violence in a homicide that remains unsolved.
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“We have to stand up as a community,” said Garlington. “We’re not just burying a child. We’re burying all our children. Just because a child does not have our blood does not mean that child does not belong to us…”
“Just a few weeks ago we all united on this corner because there were three shootings in one night in our very small Smith Hill community,” said Providence City Councilmember Katherine Kerwin (Ward 12). “It was devastating because for months and months prior to those shootings Miss Althea, myself and other community members with leaders and police and begging them to do something about what we could see was about to be a very violent situation on this corner…”
“We need our police officers to step up,” said Garlington. “And you may be upset because I say that, but it’s the truth. Like right now, where are they? We should have people here that support us. All this crime is happening on their watch… They’re paid to do this job…”
The police “should be doing their job,” agreed Miss Althea, a long time Smith Hill resident and a valued member of the community. “We need to be doing [our job.] If we know our child has got a gun in the house, we need to get rid of that gun.”
Miss Althea lost a child to gun violence almost 40 years ago. “And I don’t want anyone to feel that pain ever again,” said Miss Althea.
Lock Arms for Peace closed out the gathering with a prayer led by Diana Garlington.