Poor People’s Campaign week six: A new unsettling force

Week six of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign: A Call for Moral Revival took things up a notch when Peter Nightingale, professor of physics at the University of Rhode Island, and Sister Mary Pendergast, from the Sisters of Mercy refused to leave the Rhode Island State House at the 6:30pm closing. They were there to demand an answer to a letter the campaign sent to State House leaders at the beginning of the campaign six weeks earlier, a letter that was ignored by Governor Gina Raimondo, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio.

As State House employees left for the evening, Rhode Island Capitol and State Police Officers instructed everyone still gathered in the main rotunda to leave, including press and a legal observer from the Rhode Island Lawyers Guild. Eventually only Pendergast and Nightingale remained. The two were escorted to the exit of the State House, briefly handcuffed, and taken outside. The officers, after consultation with superiors by phone or radio, released Pendergast and Nightingale, telling the pair that if charges are pressed, they will receive notification by mail for their court date.

It was a interesting end to the six weeks of protest held every Monday outside the State House. This week’s theme was “A new and unsettling force,” based on a line from Dr Martin Luther King Jr‘s speech announcing his Poor People’s Campaign from 50 years ago.

Below is all the video from outside the State House, prior to the interaction with police officers inside.

The action on the Poor People’s Campaign now switches to Washington DC on Saturday, June 23, “for a call to action Rally to Fight Poverty Not the Poor, capping off our #40DaysOfAction and launching the next phase of our movement for the long-haul. The rally will begin at 10am (ET).”

For more on the DC action, see here.

Here’s the video, starting with Reverend Ebony Grisom, co-chair of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign:

Professor Peter Nightingale:

John Gonzalez


Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival kicks off

Week two of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign takes on systemic racism and poverty

Week three of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign takes on the war economy

Week four of the Rhode Island Poor People’s Campaign takes on ecological devastation and health care

Week five of the RI Poor People’s Campaign tackles education and jobs, begins to up the ante



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About Steve Ahlquist 492 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com

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