The Dancing Cop resurfaces in Pawtucket

The Pawtucket Public Library has scheduled a “Tony the Dancing Cop safety show” for children on Wednesday, April 18, from 10:30-11:30am. Tony Lepore, the Dancing Cop, had long been a seasonal holiday feature in Providence, dancing and directing traffic downtown, until he involved himself in an incident that brought him into conflict with the Providence Police Department, from which he is retired, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Lepore organized a boycott against a Dunkin’ Donuts store in October 2015 after a young woman employee wrote #blacklivesmatter on a coffee cup for a Providence police officer. His protest, on a Saturday morning, was small, but stood in contrast to the large group rallying in support of the young woman.

“I did this to protect the police,” Lepore said to the Providence Journal. “Keep your thoughts and First Amendment rights away from Dunkin’ Donuts.”

Lepore was dismissed from his holiday gig as a result of his protest. “Mr Lepore was not authorized to speak on behalf of the Providence Police Department and his actions were, in my judgment, a disservice to the Department and to members of the Providence Community,” Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said in the statement.

On his Facebook page Lepore wrote, “Police Officers are under attack by the Black Lives Matter movement. Officers have no voice mostly because their superiors want to be in charge.”

Later, after the City of East Providence tried to hire Lepore before thinking better of it as people raised their voices in protest, Lepore went on the John DePetro radio show where he is quoted as saying, “Why don’t you go into the ghetto and help those people,” Lepore said on the show. “They are killing each other.” Per the Providence Journal, “Lepore continued to say that the Black Lives Matter organization does not represent the black community, but their own political agenda.

“Lepore said he felt ‘you people’ — meaning people of color — ‘are racists.'”

Reached by phone and asked for a comment, Pawtucket Library Director Susan Reed said, “I have no comment to make. No decision has been made at this time.”

“No decision? The event is listed on the website,” I replied. “Does this mean the event might be cancelled?”

“I have no comment,” repeated Reed.

Several people have contacted the library and this reporter about the event.

SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) RI has started a petition to get Lepore’s appearance at the library cancelled.

Lepore’s relationship with the City of Pawtucket doesn’t end at the library. Yesterday Tony the Dancing Cop marched and danced in the Pawtucket St Patrick’s Day Parade.

Here’s a screenshot of the event from the Pawtucket Public Library’s event calendar:

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About Steve Ahlquist 272 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.

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