Rally that blocked Friendship Street Thursday releases statement

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DARE's rally outside the district courthouse. (Owen Fraga/WLNE)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Direct Action for Rights and Equality, who held a rally that blocked Friendship Street on Thursday, released a statement on the event.

“Over 100 people with signs reading ‘Stop Denying Our Due Process Rights’ and ‘Justice for Carol’ gathered at the Sixth District Court to mourn the death of 64-year-old grandmother Carol Pona, who died in custody on March 28 after being held without bail for three months while awaiting a 32F probation violation hearing,” Community Organizer Anusha Alles said.

DARE was joined by over 30 organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union and the State Council of Churches, she added.

The rally was held as both a memorial and protest to bring attention to the organization’s Bail on 32 campaign, which seeks to pass major reforms to the state’s bail system.

The Bail on 32 bill would require courts to grant bail to violators instead of holding them for up to 10 days, as can currently occurs, the organization explained.

The rally included “court support” tables tables to provide resources to to those going through the court system, Alles said.

The group that blocked Friendship Street were unaffiliated with DARE but came out to show support for the group’s actions.

“We are thankful to DARE for their daily work, the full day of court support tabling they organized, and the space they created for public mourning and testimony,” a statement by the group read. “We are moved by the strength and vision of Carol’s family to advocate for others even as they grieve.”

The Bail on would require that judges assign bail to people accused of probation violation, but would allow a judge to set bail as they see fit, Alles said.

“Rhode Island has the second highest rate of people on probation in the country, and the third longest probation sentences,” she added. “This system’s impacts fall hardest on Rhode Island’s black communities, with black men representing one in 20 of the state’s population but one in six of those on probation.”

Categories: News, Rhode Island