PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – 400 peaceful protesters marched and gather outside of the Providence Public Safety Complex on Saturday in support of the Baltimore protests after the death of Freddie Gray.
The march began at classical high school and continued on to the Public Safety Complex.
“We want to see justice happen from this moment,” Said Evisl Thomas, one of the protesters.
The walked was one of several across the country on Saturday, all of them coinciding with one in Baltimore. The message was the same at all of the nationwide protests, a call for justice in the now homicide of Freddie Gray.
Six Baltimore police officers have been charged in Gray’s death; one was charged with second degree murder.
Thomas said, ” This has been going on for quite a while and it’s unfortunate that it took this point for something else to happen.”
Protester Leslie Turner said she hopes this movement started in the wake of Gray’s death will spark change everywhere. “I do because this is what the country needs right now,” She said.
“This is about the fundamental relationship that communities of color have with their police departments,” Said protest organizer Marco McWilliams.
Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements was on hand for Saturday’s protest. He says he thinks the relationship between his department and the people of Providence is very good right now. “There are certainly issues around the country and we’re not perfect but I would say overall our relationships are pretty good. In fact I’d say they are very good,” Said Clements.
Jim Vincent, President of the Providence Branch of the NAACP says that this incident calls attention to police accountability. “Police accountability is important. Police professionalism is important and black lives do matter,” He said.
Organizer Marco Williams says that while this is a race issue it is also a social class issue as well.
“You know everything in America is a race issue and embedded in that I means is class means, economic means, class, economics, so it is both.”
Col. Clements said there were zero arrests and zero incidents at Saturday’s protest. He even commended protesters.