Up to 9,000 attend peaceful protest in Providence

State House Protest 1

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE)–

The protests in Providence came to an end late Friday night with only four arrests.  Police say one of those people was arrested when he attempted to drive his motorcycle at a Providence Police officer.  They added that they were grateful for the largely peaceful ending to the night.

They estimate as many as 7000-9000 protesters hit the streets of Providence, filtering through Kennedy Plaza before holding a rally at the RI State House.  Crowds remained on-site well beyond the city’s 9 p.m. curfew, with the Rhode Island National Guard and the State Police standing guard in riot gear.

Shortly after the curfew began, Governor Gina Raimondo came out into the crowd, urging people to go home but thanking them for their peaceful demonstration.

After the protesters dispersed, several dozen marched through Providence into the area of Kennedy Plaza before heading home.

 

Friday 9:15 UPDATE – A group  of protesters have remained at the State House following Friday’s peaceful demonstration, as a tense scene has developed between the National Guard and those defying orders to disperse.

A curfew for the city of Providence goes went into effect for 9:00 p.m.

The National Guard where heard telling protesters to disperse shortly after 8:00 p.m. Following a conversation with what appeared to be an organizer of the event, orders where given to clear the area at 8:30 p.m.

A young woman addressed the crowd, asking those remaining to leave.

Currently a group, perhaps 100 strong, have remained.

At times, chants of “Take of that riot gear, we don’t see no riot here!” and “Take a knee!” were heard.

The crowd, while remaining in defiance of orders from the National Guard and the city, has remained peaceful.

House Minority Leader Blake Filippi said on Twitter that it remains unclear if the State House falls under the control of the Governor or the city of Providence.

Protesters have since fallen silent, in recognition of those who have lost their lives.

The crowd took a knee, and kept silent for 8 minutes and 42 seconds, in recognition of the time that a white police office held his knee on the neck of George Floyd, in a racially charged incident that has sparked protests across the world over aggressive police tactics and systemic racism.

A number or protesters left the scene following the moment of silence, however tensions continued between assembled police and military forces and those remaining.

Gov. Gina Raimondo attempted to address the crowd, but was shouted down by those remaining on the State House lawn.

The governor asked protesters to pray with her, who in turn shouted profanities and mocked her.

The crowd dispersed roughly 20 minutes after the governor’s appearance, though a few groups continued to march across the city.

A group of young protesters were seen on Broadway headed downtown.  Police appeared to take one person in custody, as the group chanted “Peaceful protest!” and “Trayvon Martin!”, in reference to the Florida teenager who was shot during an another racially charged incident in 2012.

While the exchange appeared tense at times, Commander Thomas Verdi engaged in dialog with the protesters, who continued on to Kennedy Plaza and continuing a peaceful, though spirited, rally.

 

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