Around two dozen people marched from Classical High School on Westminter Street to the Providence Public Safety Complex in support of Jhamal Gonsalves, and against police brutality. Gonsalves was severely injured when a police cruiser, following closely behind his moped, lost control and knocked a stop sign into his bike helmet. Gonsalves remains unresponsive.
After a three month investigation by the State Police, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha declined to bring any charges against the Providence Police Officer who injured Gonsalves. Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said that the officer was disciplined with a two-day suspension and some retraining.
“I’m not happy about the decisions that were made,” said Mark Gonsalves, the father of Jhamal, speaking briefly to reporters ahead of the march. “It’s a disgrace… We all have to be held accountable for our decisions.”
“When we do something wrong we get held accountable,” said organizer Brooklyn Toussaint from ProvX. “Poor and working class people – we follow the laws – the law cracks down on us. However, officers have qualified immunity to brutalize us. They can do whatever they want to us and they still keep their jobs.”
The protest marched and chanted for the five minutes it took to get the the Public Safety Complex. There, the Providence Police Department, outnumbering the protesters two to one, had Dean Street cordoned off with temporary metal fencing secured with zip-tie handcuffs.
Outside the Public Safety Complex people spoke, addressing issues of police violence, racial injustice, and more. At times they addressed their fellow protesters, other times they addressed the police directly.
Mark Gonsalves announced to the crowd that there would be a second march for his son Jhamal on Friday, January 15 at 2:30pm. This march will begin at the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office on South Main Street and end at the Providence City Hall.
Here are the rest of the video from the Public Safety Complex.