Racist stickers, graffiti found at playground in East Providence

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — East Providence Police are now investigating after several racist stickers and racist graffiti was found on a playground on Vintner Avenue.

Residents tell ABC6 the stickers have been appearing for a few months. 

“When I first saw it, I didn’t think it would be possible to happen here,” said Jayson Estrada of nearby Barrington.

The stickers displayed racist messages, such as ‘White Lives Matter,’ and ‘ White Pride World-Wide.’

After re-appearing several times, a resident finally reported them to police.

“I wish it was reported sooner,” said Major Christopher Francesconi with the East Providence Police Department.

After filing a report, police asked the city’s Parks Department to remove the stickers from the playground and paint over any graffiti. Crews were seen doing so Tuesday morning.

“We would definitely like to speak to [the culprits] and see if there is anything else going on when it comes to these hateful messages,” said Major Francesconi.

While police have only received reports of these stickers on the playground, locals tell ABC6 they’ve seen them elsewhere around town, like on the East Bay Bike Path.

“Last week I was walking on the bike path and I saw two white nationalist symbols,” said Estrada, who removed the stickers himself. 

Most neighbors tell ABC6 they still feel safe in their neighborhood, they just want people to feel welcomed.

“I think we need to respect one another,” said Estrada. “It doesn’t matter what political or personal beliefs you have, people are people,” he said, “It doesn’t matter what color your skin is.”

“This is not indicative of East Providence,” said the major. “It is a diverse, welcoming, proud community, so when we see stuff like that we want to get involved right away and nip it in the butt.”

Police say they’re not necessarily looking to press charges, they just want to make sure the culprits do not have other ill-intentions.

On Thursday, East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva issued a statement asking residents not to remove the stickers, but to report them to police.

“If any member of the community should witness any acts of vandalism in the future, we ask that you follow this protocol: please do not touch, attempt to remove, or attempt to cover it up in any way,” DaSilva said in a written statement.

The police will treat any instance of vandalism as a crime scene, and process and collect evidence, according to the statement.

“Vandalism will not be tolerated in our community and the city is taking any act of vandalism, racism or hatred very seriously,” DaSilva said.

The city will hold a meeting of its Community Advisory Board on Wednesday, September 9 at 6 p.m. at East Providence City Hall Conference Room 306. Community members are welcome to join and voice their concerns over the instances of racist vandalism and other matters.

©WLNE-TV/ABC 6  2020

Categories: News, Regional News