McKee’s homeless eviction order temporarily blocked as protesters gather at State HouseAt the end of a protest to prevent the eviction of a homeless encampment on State House land, protesters learned that the courts have stayed the eviction, at least until Wednesday.
Published on December 9, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist
As a rally held in opposition to Governor Daniel McKee‘s Wednesday morning decision to issue eviction notices to the unhoused encampment on the State House plaza came to a close, news dropped that Attorney Richard Corley had successfully arranged for a stay on the eviction before Superior Court Judge David Cruise.
In Superior Court, Governor McKee was represented by six attorneys, some of whom were from the law firm of Adler, Pollock and Sheehan (APS). Among the APS lawyers representing the State was R. Bart Totten, who is on the short list for a Superior Court Justice seat of his own. Richard Corley was the lone attorney fighting for “John Doe”, a person camping on the State house plaza who refuses to leave.
The stay on the eviction is good until at least Wednesday when Judge Cruise will hold a hearing on the merits of Attorney Corley’s motion.
That aside, last night temperatures dropped to at least 32 degrees, and probably less than that on windy Smith Hill where the State House looms large over a homeless encampment of around 11 people. As the sun rose advocates and allies gathered on the State House plaza under the watchful eyes of the Rhode Island State Police, who are under orders to prevent anyone else from moving into a tent on the plaza.
At around 8:30am, with the judge’s decision still unknown, Pamela Poniatowski, one of the trips-chairs of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign, began the rally. Well over 150 people were in attendance. Representatives from the Massachusetts Poor People’s Campaign were also in attendance, as were representatives from the National Union of the Homeless.
“The freedom we want is for dignity and housing for everyone in Rhode Island,” said Poniatowski.
“This is a human crisis right. This is a genocide right now,” said Diamond, who is formerly homeless but also, $400 away from being homeless again. “People need housing. You promised us housing last year. People died. People are going to die this year. All we want is a little compassion.”
“The governor may have an office here, but this is your house,” said the Reverend Donnie Anderson. “Nobody is out here on these cold marble slabs because they thought it would be a nice way to spend some vacation time. They’re here because there’s real problems, there’s complicated problems, and bringing the State Police in to push people off this property doesn’t help the problem- in fact, in just exacerbates those problems.”
“Many of the people that are here right now have jobs,” said Rhode Island State Senator Cynthia Mendes. “There’s a woman here that has to travel all the way to Massachusetts for work. There’s another man who has a job at a restaurant. They cannot go into shelters because the shelters close. Dan McKee is making them choose between employment and shelter.”
“Where’s the love and compassion, instead of harassment?” asked Terri Wright, an organizer with Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE). “You have homeless and unsheltered folks who are suffering right now. This does not look like a governor that cares.”
“This will not be won by one or two mass assemblies,” said Reverend Duane Clinker of Mathewson Street Church. “This will be won by a growing network of organizations… This is only going to won by going deep, getting organized, learning each other’s names and staying together.”
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After several other speakers, the rally moved inside the State House where a woman, a single mother of four with a talented voice, sang.
More speakers were heard, and plans were made to meet at Mathewson Street Church in downtown Providence on Sunday at 4pm to plan further actions.