‘Police need to be part of the solution’: RI leaders attend round table on race relations

Blackstone Valley

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) ─ State and local leaders gathered for a round table discussion Wednesday evening to discuss race relations and police brutality.

Providence native Miles Montgomery, 27, of the NAACP Providence branch organized the round table event, in which he shared his own experiences with racial profiling and inequality. 

“I’ve been profiled and followed by police countless times since I started driving 10 years ago,” he said. 

“In order for our community, our city and our country as a whole to heal, we need to see justice. Breonna Taylor’s family needs justice, Jacob Blake needs justice, Rayshard Brooks family needs justice. We need to come together and sit down and have these conversations and find a resolution to the way policing in Providence and Rhode Island is.”

Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare and President of the NAACP Providence Branch Jim Vincent were in attendance as Rhode Islanders shared their personal experiences.

“Police need to be a part of the solution because we drive a lot of changes,” Pare said. “But we can’t do that if we don’t engage with the community.”

Many in attendance marched through Providence Monday night, calling for the defunding of the city’s police department.

Vincent said that the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin over the weekend is another example of why police reform is necessary.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Vincent said. “You can say Black Lives Matter, but if you kill Black people, do you really mean it?”

Pare said the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association recently came up with a 20-point plan to improve race relations. He said internal talks are necessary, but emphasized that community engagement is even more important.

“People have to be treated equally, respectfully and people shouldn’t die at the hands of the police unnecessarily,” he said.

Vincent said he hopes to see the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights be eliminated and rebuilt from scratch. He’s on the state’s task force that is discussing whether it should be dismantled or amended.

“I was inspired by my friends Lanier and Makayla Chapman who created and led a successful protest in Newport back in June and my friend Shawn Antoine II who also led a protest in Harlem in June. Youth activists from Gen Z: We Want to Live, ProvX and countless others inspired me to have this conversation and it was very productive,” Montgomery told Eyewitness News after the roundtable.

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