Protest outside of Gov. Raimondo’s home leads to arrests

"We've been calling for action behind the walls since the pandemic began because we knew this was inevitably going to happen."

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Police arrested five protesters outside of Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s home on Wednesday night.

The protestors gathered on Wednesday to demand better inmate care at the ACI, following an outbreak of COVID-19. In the past week, both an inmate and corrections officer have died after contracting the virus.

Rhode Island State Police arrested the following individuals for Disorderly Conduct on Wednesday night:

  • Orlando Garcia, 23, of Sandia Park, New Mexico
  • Leah Jones, 26, of Bangor, Maine
  • Sylvianne Shurman, 29, of Providence, Rhode Island
  • Tess Gabert, 24, of Providence, Rhode Island
  • Adam Friedberg, 23, of Providence, Rhode Island
  • Katherine Batchelder, 42, of Providence, Rhode Island

The six individuals were taken to State Police Headquarters where they were processed and arraigned by a Justice of the Peace.  They were released pending a future court date.

“We’ve been calling for action behind the walls since the pandemic began because we knew this was inevitably going to happen” said Haley McKee, with Direct Action for Rights and Equality.

In a statement, RI DOC Public Information Officer J.R. Ventura said in part, “We do not want anyone to die from COVID, and we are working very hard to keep everyone as safe as possible.  We have implemented a series of health safety measures to make sure we reduce as much as possible the spread of COVID-19.”

Another protestor in front of Raimondo’s east side home has family at the ACI.  Douglas Rogers, with Black and Pink Providence said, “It’s a tough thing to get a phone call from your loved one saying he’s scared to die.”

Rogers continued, “It’s very sad that in this crisis that we got a governor that won’t speak up.”

Protestors said they want Raimondo to ensure that inmates are being given proper PPE, infected inmates are in isolation, and both guards and inmates comply with social distancing.

The news of the inmate’s death came on Saturday from the Rhode Island Department of Corrections.  The inmate died at Rhode Island Hospital while being treated for COVID-19 complications.

A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said in a statement, “The inmate was housed in the maximum-security facility of the ACI since 1988, where he was serving life without parole for the sexual assault and resulting death of a 73-year-old double amputee woman.”

The Department of Corrections reported on Thursday 1,098 cases of the virus, which include both facility residents and staff members. 390 of the cases were recorded from the maximum-security unit.

RI DOC Director, Patricia Coyne-Fague released a statement saying, ““It is clear that we must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of Covid19. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our medical and security staff, we have not experienced the heartbreaking losses that other DOCs across the country have. However, this is a strong reminder as to why we must continue to wear our masks, get vaccinated, and follow our health safety protocols to keep everyone as safe as possible.”

The Governor’s Office has not returned ABC6’s request for a statement.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island