PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Five people were arrested Friday morning after tensions boiled over during a demonstration outside Northeast Transportation Services in Pawtucket, according to police.
The Pawtucket Police Department responded to the strike to assist with “traffic and crowd control.”
The picketers were all charged with disorderly conduct, though some of them were also hit with additional charges:
- Charles Reid, 40, of Central Falls, was charged with disorderly conduct, simple assault and resisting arrest.
- Tiffany Thompson, 42, of New Bedford, was arrested on an outstanding warrant and charged with disorderly conduct, simple assault, obstruction of an officer and resisting arrest.
- Marisa Delfino, 29, of Warwick, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
- Matthew Marini, 48, of East Providence, and Arthur Porter, 45, of Johnston, were both charged with disorderly conduct.
Teamsters Principal Officer Matthew Taibi tells 12 News Teamsters Local 251 have been striking against Northeast, a contracted DHL service provider, since late June.
Taibi said the strike is in response to the company committing what demonstrations are calling “unfair labor practices.”
The workers are demanding the company pay for a share towards retirement, livable wages and affordable healthcare.
Rondelle Walker was on the picket line when the situation devolved into chaos.
“Everything went haywire,” she recalled, adding that officers had “pushed someone” prior to the ordeal.
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One protester, who wished to remain anonymous, said officers pepper sprayed the crowd.
“All of a sudden I had a face full of pepper spray,” the protester said. “It sucks. It was in my mouth … my nose was burning.”
“The governor was here to talk to us and give us his support,” he continued. “What on earth would make them think we were a threat?”
Video of the incident obtained by 12 News shows picketers and officers shouting and shoving one another. Officers were also seen taking picketers to the ground, restraining them and placing them in handcuffs.
“It was a frustrating situation for everyone involved,” Taibi said. “We’re certainly disappointed in the outcome.”
Thompson is currently being held at the ACI, while the other four picketers were arraigned by a bail commissioner and released pending their next court date.
12 News has reached out to NorthEast Transportation LLC for comment on the incident, but has not heard back from them at this time.