Sayles St families report ongoing police harassment

Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) is holding a speak out and march on Thursday, September 16 at 7pm. They will be meeting at Manton and Salmon Streets in Providence. The march will be led by “the Sayles Street and Manton Ave families whose children were brutally assaulted by police this summer.”
Photo for Sayles St families report ongoing police harassment

Published on September 15, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

Taffii Moore asked the Cranston police officer at her car window why she had been pulled over.

“License and registration,” said the officer.

Taffii asked a second time, and received the same terse response.

“So now I’m looking around for my pocketbook, and the officer was like, ‘Stop moving!'” Taffii told UpriseRI.

“You just asked me for my license,” said Taffii, now unable to get the information from her pocketbook.

“This ain’t Providence,” said the officer, and Taffii immediately understood that the officer knew who she was. She also knew why the police officer had pulled over in the first place.

Taffii Moore, along with Alynzea Quaranta and another mother were the three women whose children were pepper sprayed and arrested on Sayles Street in Providence just months ago. Three officers were disciplined in the wake of the incident. One officer, who misgendered and slurred Taffii’s daughter on video, retired rather than face punishment for his behavior. Despite being targeted for her gender expression by the officer, Taffii’s 21-year old daughter Zyrray continues to face charges.

Since the incident, Taffii and Alynzea maintain that they have been targeted and harassed by the police. Families from a separate incident, where three boys were arrested, beaten and spit on by police officers in video that shocked Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré, are also seeking justice and fear reprisals. One of the boys is still being held at the Training School.

In response, Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) is holding a speak out and march on Thursday, September 16 at 7pm. They will be meeting at Manton and Salmon Streets in Providence. The march will be led by “the Sayles Street and Manton Ave families whose children were brutally assaulted by police this summer.”

DARE is demanding:

  1. Immediately release the fifteen year old who is incarcerated at the Training School.
  2. Repeal the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBoR).
  3. Defund the police and invest in resources for our youth! This includes replacing cops with counselors in our schools, which students are currently campaigning for in Providence. End racist police attacks on these families, on our communities, and on our youth!

Ahead of the protest, Taffii and Alynzea spoke with UpriseRI.

Unable to get her license and registration because she was ordered not to move, Taffii once again asked why she was pulled over. “License and registration,” repeated the officer. Finally, the officer ordered Taffii to get out of the car, so he could search her.

Taffii’s son, Rashad, and her daughter, Zyrray, were in the car when Taffii was pulled over, as well as Zyrray’s girlfriend’s eight-year old daughter. Zyrray was recording the police encounter on Taffii’s phone. Taffii got out of her car and the officer ordered her behind his police vehicle, out of sight of her daughter and the phone.

“Why does she have to go back there?” asked Zyrray. “We can’t see her back there.”

“Why can’t you be cooperative with me?” the officer asked Taffii.

“All I was asking is why you pulled me over,” said Taffii.

“Your car smelled like weed,” said the officer.

Taffii was pulled over on Park Avenue in Cranston, and pulled into the Dollar General parking lot for this interaction with the police. Her windows were up and the air conditioner was on. And Taffii had not been smoking marijuana.

“So where’s your license and registration? Is it in the car?” asked the officer.

“I was trying to find it and get my pocketbook, but you wouldn’t let me,” said Taffii. “The registration is on my phone. The car is a rental.”

“They don’t give you a paper copy?” asked the officer.

“No, it’s on my phone,” said Taffii. “They send it in an email.”

“Yeah right,” said the officer.

“I can look it up for you,” offered Taffii.

“I’m not doing that,” said the officer.

Frustrated, the police officer called in for back up. “Be advised,” said the officer, “occupants in the vehicle are recording.”

The apparent and ongoing harassment of the Sayles Street families may be seen as a policy position of Cranston Mayor Kenneth Hopkins and Cranston Police Chief Michael Winquist that crime must be stopped from “creeping” over the border from Providence.

“I know we don’t want to be like the City next to us – the City of Providence – that has a spike in violent crime and property crime,” said Chief Winquist to the Cranston City Council on Tuesday, explaining a new license plate reader technology. These license plate readers are positioned at key points of entry into Cranston. “I don’t want to sit back and wait for whatever will spillover into this city,” added the Chief.

Republican Mayor Hopkins released a politically charged statement back in August criticizing Providence’s Democratic Mayor Jorge Elorza, branding Providence as “lawless”:

“Unfortunately, in the neighboring Capital City, many brave men and women in blue are limited in resources and remain without executive support from their elected officials. This lack of leadership produces a sense of lawlessness, leading to heinous acts of violence on neighborhood streets. I will not allow this unlawful behavior to cross over Cranston’s borders.”

Cranston militarized the border of Cranston and Providence last October in the wake of protests that followed Jhamal Gonsalves being injured after a police cruiser impacted his moped. Seven people were arrested as Cranston Police entered Providence and aggressively and indiscriminately pepper sprayed protesters, reporters, onlookers and residents.

Taffii Moore and her family were now surrounded by five police vehicles in the Dollar General parking lot.

“Identify the people in the car,” said the officer who first pulled Taffii over. Zyrray gave her name, but Rashad was quiet, and merely continued to film.

“Did you get their names?” asked the first offcier.

“Yeah, but the young man in the back seat wouldn’t identify himself,” said the second officer.

“Arrest his ass,” said the first oficer.

Tafii objected. “Arrest him? Why? I’m his mother.”

The officer, said Taffii, told her to shut the fuck up. She didn’t.

“I’m his mother,” said Taffii. “He’s a minor. He doesn’t have an ID. I’m his mother, I can identify him.”

“Shut the fuck up,” repeated the officer. “Why do you have to be like this?”

“Do you understand what me and my kids are going through?” asked Taffii. “We don’t trust the police, period.”

“We’re not Providence,” said the officer. “We’re Cranston.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Taffii.

Eventually, after the involvement of over half a dozen Cranston police officers, Taffii Moore was allowed to go home. No tickets were issued.

Alynzea Quaranta was able to secure a section eight voucher that allowed her to rent a house in Cranston for herself and her nine children about six weeks ago. Her son, she says, has been labelled a “Sayles Street boy” by Cranston Police.

“We don’t live like trash here,” she says a Cranston police officer told her family. “Take that back to Providence.”

Based on what Cranston Police Chief Winquist described as “nuisance calls” the officers twice entered Alynzea’s home, guns drawn, looking for evidence of drugs.

“They literally raided my house and found, not even enough to make it look like we’re selling drugs, but put it all over the news that ww were selling drugs out of the house,” said Alynzea.

Alynzea was charged with possession. Several news outlets in Rhode Island reported on the arrest of Alynzea, based entirely on police reports. No media attempted to talk to her, she says.

Two days later the police returned to Alynzea’s house claiming that they tracked a stolen car to the location. “The cops came to my house with guns drawn again. They put my son in cuffs. They arrested my 14 year old daughter.”

Police arrested Alynzea’s barefoot daughter, in her underwear and a sweater, for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, inside her own home, said Alynzea.

After one of the raids on her home, Alynzea says she was asked by a Cranston Police Officer, “Did you get our message?” before being told,”Go back to Providence or we will be back.”

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