On Sunday morning over three dozen youth activists and constituents protested in front of the home of Rhode Island State Representative Christopher Blazajewski (Democrat, District 2, Providence). Marching from India Point Park to Representative Blazejewski’s Fox Point home, Sunrise Providence protesters came to demand that the House Majority Leader Blazajewski support the Rescue Rhode Island Act.
Sunrise Providence described Representative Blazejewski as “one of the most powerful politicians in Rhode Island” and “a ‘so-called’ progressive legislator” who claims to support a Green New Deal, “but is refusing to support the Rescue Rhode Island Act.”
The Rescue Rhode Island Act is a series of three bills written by Renew Rhode Island, a coalition of 21 community groups across the state. The bills would mandate hundreds of millions of dollars be invested by the state in green, affordable housing, local food, and Green Justice Zones. Sunrise says that dozens of constituents from House District 2 have emailed and called Representative Blazajewski, asking him to support the legislation, a state-level Green New Deal. So far, Representative Blazejewski has refused to commit to the bill, but has sent a mailer to his constituents asking them to vote for a state bond that he called a Green New Deal.
At the action in front of Representative Blazejewski’s home, a lineup of speakers called out the Majority Leader for “his hypocrisy in not supporting the legislation.”
“We need to stand up together and fight this, and ask Representative Blazejewski to put his money where his mouth is, and stop saying he supports this and supports that, but actually show us that he supports the Rescue Rhode Island Act,” said Monica Huertas, co-chair of Renew RI.
Sunrise Providence organizer Rachael Baker, told a story about speaking to the youth of Providence’s future. said, “I will tell them of how we threw down to get Green New Deal champions in the State House… and I’ll tell them about Blazejewski,” said Rachel Baker, and organizer with Sunrise Providence and a constituent of Representative Blazejewski. “I’ll tell them about the hypocrite that he is, that he’ll back the ‘Green New Deal’ but doesn’t care if his state is underwater before it’s enacted.”
“Meet our urgent needs,” said Terri Wright, an organizer with Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE). “We need more affordable housing.”
Addressing Representative Blazejewski, Jesus Holguin from the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee said the Rescue Rhode Island Act “focuses us on moving towards the just transition that Rhode Island residents have been asking for. We prioritized these things as what we need, and for [Representative Blazejewski] to not see that, for [his] idea of a Green New Deal to not be parallel for what our community says we need – Like folks said, move out of the way so that work can get done.”
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Elana Hausknecht, an organizer with Sunrise Providence and a Summer 2020 Sunrise campaign fellow, mentioned that dozens of Democratic incumbents lost in the 2020 Democratic primaries to progressive challengers, and that if Representative Blazejewski doesn’t step up to lead on a Green New Deal, he might be next.
“We need to be prepared that Blazejewski may not support the act, and I want to say that I know we are prepared,” said Hausknecht. “As Rachael mentioned, in Sunrise we have a phrase, ‘step up or step aside,’ and if Representative Blazejewski doesn’t step up, I hope in 2022 you’re all prepared to join me and help Blazejewski step aside.”
After the speaking program, Nina Wolff Landau, who emceed the event, led the protest in song as they made their way to the Michael Van Leesten Pedestrian Bridge.
The organizers dropped a banner over the edge of the pedestrian bridge reading, “Rep. Blazejewski, Back the Rescue Rhode Island Act, Meet Our Urgent Needs.” The banner was still hanging on the bridge as of Sunday afternoon.
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