Policing

Stop Cop City protest in Providence calls for end to police immunity, cops in schools

Speakers at the event called for an end to the construction of Cop City, but also called for the repeal of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBoR) and for an end to school resource officers (SROs), law enforcement officers in schools, as part of the Counselors, Not Cops campaign being spearheaded by the Providence Student Union (PSU).

March 20, 2023, 11:38 am

By Steve Ahlquist

Nearly fifty people, representing over half a dozen organizations, gathered outside the Home Depot at 387 Charles Street in Providence on Thursday to protest police violence in solidarity with the Stop Cop City protests in Atlanta. “Cop City” is the name opponents have given to the proposed Atlanta Public Safety Training Center where police officers from around the country will receive urban warfare training in a model town. The site chosen has raised concerns from environmentalists who wanted to see the area preserved as parks and natural habitats.

The location for the protest in Providence, Home Depot, was chosen because the company is one of many corporate funders of the Atlanta Police Foundation, which is building and funding the training grounds. On January 18, police killed Tortugita, a Stop Cop City activist. The autopsy results and video call into question the police account of the killing.

Allies and activists from SURJ, Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), FANG Community Bail Fund, Black Lives Matter RI PAC, AMOR RI, and the RI Queer PAC began the protest by hoisting a large #StopCopCity banner under the Home Depot sign along Charles Street. From beneath that banner speakers addressed the crowd.

Speakers at the event called for an end to the construction of Cop City, but also called for the repeal of the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBoR), a set of legal protections for police officers that shield them from responsibility for their actions. Speakers also called for an end to school resource officers (SROs) – law enforcement officers in schools – as part of the Counselors Not Cops campaign being spearheaded by the Providence Student Union (PSU).

“What I saw is that the police, and the city, are actually scared,” said Ben, recently returned from Atlanta. “The police are so jumpy.” At one march, Ben saw between 75 to 100 marchers, and “easily” that many police officers.

“They are arresting peaceful forest defenders on domestic terrorism charges as an attempt to discourage us – to make us give up and stop protesting.”

Full video:

  • 00:00 Banner raised on Home Depot
  • 00:30 Anusha, an organizer with DARE, emceed the event
  • 02:14 Ben, recently returned from the Stop Cop City protests in Atlanta
  • 06:17 Jordan, and organizer with DARE and PSL
  • 17:32 Juan an organizer with DARE
  • 21:30 Mina, an organizer with AMOR RI
  • 27:50 Why Home Depot? Anusha explains.
  • 29:15 Kimika, and organizer with RI Queer PAC
  • 33:00 Anusha wraps things up

[Thank you to Amy and Rachel for helping with the video]

Organizers provided the following action steps for supporters to take:

Actions in solidarity with #StopCopCity

Actions to Repeal LEOBOR:

Action steps for #CounselorsNotCops: Sign the petition