By: ABC6 News Staff

Reporting by Kirsten Glavin


The ‘Dancing Cop’ will not perform in East Providence this holiday season as planned.

Tony Lepore, who has been entertaining Rhode Islanders for decades, told ABC6 News that he had been hired by East Providence to conduct traffic leading up to Christmas.

According to Mayor Thomas Rose, he will no longer perform for the city and the topic was taken off the agenda of the City Council meeting Tuesday night. Though it was not on the official docket, dozens of residents took to the podium during the public forum portion to express their disappointment in the initial decision to hire Lepore.

"I'm here because I'm disturbed that the city of East Providence would consider hiring a man that was dismissed by another city, barely a week before, for racism," said one resident.

Lepore was suppose to start his duties Sunday night with a performance during the cities annual tree lighting celebrations. He said he cancelled the appearance after hearing of the protest so he would not take away from the festive atmosphere.

The Black Lives Matters movement supporters also used the forum to call attention to racial discrimination in East Providence, pointing out controversial comments made by Mayor Rose in which he said the city doesn't have racial problems.

The mayor is now backtracking on his comments, saying, "There may be issues that I don't see in the city or I don't notice as much."

Lepore, stung by the criticism, denied all accusations of being racist, "I'm not a racist. People that know me in the community know I'm not a racist."

The change in locations comes less than a week after Providence Police severed ties with Lepore. Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pares says Lepore gave an inaccurate impression that he represented the department and made comments when he was not authorized to do so on behalf of the agency.

Last month Lepore led a protest outside of a Providence Dunkin' Donuts where one employee wrote "#BlackLivesMatter" on a coffee cup before serving it to an officer.

Lepore says he protested on his own behalf, as a citizen, not in uniform and is offended by the cities decision to let him go.

© WLNE-TV 2015