Policing

Providence Police officers pepper sprayed and beat our children, say Moms

UpriseRI spoke with four mothers, Taffii Moore, Nicole Blakely, Alynzea Quaranta and Kayla Lopes, whose children were assaulted by police. And not only pepper-sprayed – but beaten, held inside the back of a police van with no ventilation or air conditioning in 95 degree weather, dragged in the street, misgendered, and more.
Photo for Providence Police officers pepper sprayed and beat our children, say Moms

Published on June 30, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

Five-year old Shyla smiled when I told her how brave she was. The night before she had been pepper-sprayed by members of the Providence Police Department. Shyla was one of over 20 children, ranging in ages from one to 17, who were pepper-sprayed by police on Tuesday night at 260 Sayles Avenue in Providence. Several were beaten with batons, punched, and dragged.

The Decarcerate Now Coalition will be holding a press conference with the families at 1pm at 260 Sayles Street in Providence on Thursday, July 1.

The police had been called when a fight broke out between adult neighbors. Police then began to pepper spray and beat the children without warning. None of the adults nor any of the children had weapons on them. The police pulled a gun on at least one of the mothers who was trying to protect her son.

Here’s video of the event:

As of this writing neither Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza nor Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré have replied to a request for comment or to a request for the police report and police body cam footage.

UpriseRI spoke with four mothers, Taffii Moore, Nicole Blakely, Alynzea Quaranta and Kayla Lopes, whose children were assaulted by police. And not only pepper-sprayed – but beaten, held inside the back of a police van with no ventilation or air conditioning in 95 degree weather, dragged in the street, misgendered, and more.

One of the mother asked an officer how he could justify using deadly chemical agents on children, to which the officer dismissively replied, “No one ever died from being pepper-sprayed.” That officer was corrected by a medical responder, who pointed out that in fact people with asthma or other medical conditions have certainly died after being pepper sprayed.

Two girls and two boys were taken into custody. Three of those arrested are under the age of 18 and the third is 21, a young woman. All were beaten and pepper sprayed by police and all have visible marks on their bodies. The 21 year old was misgendered by police despite onlookers protesting that they were beating a young woman. She was kept in custody overnight and was denied a phone call.

Both girls and one of the boys were held in the back of a hot police van for an hour without air conditioning while struggling to breathe after being maced. The younger girl has asthma. The youth were banging on the doors and requesting that the air be turned on but were ignored.

14 year old Ny’asia and her mother, Nicole Blakely, both have asthma and Nicole was taken to the hospital after mother and daughter were both pepper sprayed. Ny’asia moved “to protect her little cousin from getting sprayed” said her mother, and was sprayed, dragged and slammed into a police van door and then “thrown in back of the van, hitting her head on the way in,” and then held in the back of the van with “no air and maced in the face and couldn’t breathe.”

“My daughter,” said Nicole Blakely, “felt like she was being tortured.”

A fourth boy, who is a 14 year old cancer patient, was beaten by police with a baton while trying to shield another boy. He was then taken into custody and held in a separate police car.

Several of the children reported being beaten while trying to protect their parents and each other. As the violence escalated, neighbors came to protest what was happening. There are multiple video recordings of the incident that will be released.

UpriseRI has requested the police reports, and as of this writing has not received them.

Many children and adults were injured in the altercation with the police. None of the children had weapons. Here are a few:

  • Juan, 17, was beaten and kicked
  • Kadaisna, 14, was pepper sprayed while helping a sibling.
  • Rashad, 14, pepper sprayed
  • Rashid, 14, pepper sprayed
  • Tomas, 9, was pepper sprayed fell unconscious, and needed medical attention
  • Jaiden, 6, pepper sprayed
  • Shyla, 5, pepper sprayed, needed medical attention
  • Carter, 4, pepper sprayed
  • Kavseam, 1, pepper sprayed

One of the boys attacked by police told UpriseRI, putting on a brave face, “The only thing I’m afraid of is being shot by the cops.”

“After an incident like this, if lawmakers do not support defunding the police across Rhode Island, they are actively endorsing the brutal beating and near murder of children. Police are killing our children,” said BLM RI PAC Executive Director Harrison Tuttle in s statement. “We, as a society, are failing our one job: to give our children a better world than we had, because too many kids will never be alive to see it. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Black Lives Matter movement are with the families during this difficult time, but we will stop there. Thoughts and prayers don’t replace action and we will continue to fight for change.”

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