Policing

Families march against police violence – “Stop beating our children!”

“A cop’s duty is not to beat up a child, it’s to serve and protect us.”
Photo for Families march against police violence – “Stop beating our children!”

Published on September 17, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

The families of children recently involved in police violence marched in Providence on Thursday evening demanding that the police stop “brutalizing and incarcerating our children!” The march is in response to two recent incidents, and the ongoing harassment suffered by the families in their wake. The first incident occurred on Sayles Street in Providence where Providence police officers pepper sprayed, beat and arrested children after responding to a call about a party. Three officers were disciplined for their actions on that day, but charges are still pending against Zyrray Moore, a 21-year old queer woman targeted for arrest because of the way she presents.

The second incident occurred when police arrested three boys after a high speed chase and then proceeded to beat the children, with one officer spitting on a boy, during the arrest. One boy, Swervo, remains in custody at the Training School. The behavior of the police in this incident is currently under review by the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office. The march began near where the boys were arrested.

Since these incidents, the families have suffered harassment, both from the public and from the police.

The event was organized with the help of Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) and started on with speeches on the corner of Manton Avenue and Salmon Street before marching up Manton and back. Over 100 people attended the entirely peaceful march.

Neighborhood organizer Cedric Russell emceed the event.

“Our people, our community, our Black and brown children have been tortured, systematically, for too long. These are our children!” said Russell. “Our men are being locked up. You feel what I’m saying? Our men are being stripped of their families.”

Russell, who has declared his candidacy for Providence City Council Ward 11, outlined the four demands of the march:

  1. One of the three children arrested by police during the second incident above is still being held in custody. According to Russell, authorities maintain that the severely injured boy can convalesce while in custody. “We need that child to be released,” said Russell. “That’s the main reason that we’re out here.”
  2. As for Sayles Street, “We need all charges dropped,” said Russell.
  3. Repeal the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBoR)
  4. Defund the Police – Despite record numbers of people turning out in the streets in the summer of 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and calls for reductions in the police budget, both the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island substantially increased police budgets.
Cedric rus

Allyssa’s cousin Swervo is the boy that remains in police custody after being severely beaten by police.

“Last year my cousin was in a very bad car accident and he has brain damage,” said Allyssa. “And all through last year and this year he has had numerous surgeries. He’s not the same person he was before. He’s so lost because of losing a lot of his memories. He has to relearn a few things.

“A cop’s duty is not to beat up a child, it’s to serve and protect us.”

“I have been through the ringer an back since they beat our children on Sayles Street on June 29th,” said Taffii Moore, the mother of children pepper spray, beaten and arrested that day. “I’ve had my house attempted to be set on fire, I’ve had death threats, I get ‘fan mail’ from people with ugly sayings, telling me I shouldn’t be a mother… These are just some of the things ongoing since I spoke up and spoke out against the police…

“We have to stop [the police] from hitting out children,” said Moore. “We can’t beat our kids, they can’t beat our kids.”

“I am outraged but not surprised by the police abuse of working class families,” said Andira Ture, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and an organizer with DARE’s Behind the Walls Committee. “Their behavior shows once again that the police don’t protect and serve our community. And if you haven’t seen the footage of the police’s rampage against the families, it is a disgusting display of unchecked police abuse and violence against working class people.”

Videos from the march, which lasted just over an hour:

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