“We are here because I wrote a petition to the Attorney General asking that he bring more serious charges to reflect the very serious attack that Sergeant Hanley perpetrated on Mr Gore, April 19, 2020,” said Barrington resident Susannah Holloway, standing in front of the John Brown House in Providence. “This mansion we stand in front of was built by John Brown, the man who, as a corrupt United States congressman, started a long Rhode Island tradition of ignoring federal laws in order to perpetuate a system of slavery – which was absolute systemic racism.”
Holloway and two other activists, Katherine Quinn and Anita Bruno, had gathered 155 signatures, in addition to the support of at least four faith groups, including Barrington Congregational Church Mission and Justice Committee, the executive committee of the Rhode Island Association of Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, Barrington Interfaith Partners and the Center for Reconciliation.
“The Attorney General has only charged Sergeant Hanley with a mere misdemeanor simple assault for his premeditated, vicious on Mr Gore which encompassed Sergeant Hanley forcibly restraining Mr Gore, dragging him from his car, beating him, handcuffing him and kicking him in the head as he lay helpless on the pavement and unable to protect his head or defend himself,” continued Holloway, referring to a pair of videos leaked to the public that allegedly show Sergeant Joseph Hanley engaging in violent behavior, as his fellow police officers do nothing. “This is a travesty, that our Attorney General can only see a simple misdemeanor assault charge in all of this violence perpetrated in the name of this state with the power of the state behind that police boot.”
See those videos here (Warning, these videos are filled with police violence):
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha responded with a letter explaining that it was his opinion that the actions of Sergeant Joseph Hanley did not rise to felony assault. You can read that letter here.
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The Sergeant Hanley bench trial will begin on Wednesday.
The petition also asked that Attorney General Neronha request a federal hate crime investigation into the Sergeant Hanley assault. Neronha referred the petitioners to the United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island. Asked about this, Holloway said that her group is waiting for the confirmation of Merrick Garland, President Joseph Biden‘s choice to lead the United States Justice Department, before reaching out.