PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Black Lives Matter movement has been around for years, but after the death of George Floyd, the movement has had a significant increase in engagement and calls for action across the nation, including in Rhode Island.
Gary Dantzler, the head of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island, said a lot has changed both locally and nationally. He said even just the increased support for the Black Lives Matter movement is a big change in itself.
“I think we’re making progress,” he said.
The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association signed a pledge back in June to address systemic racism, and Gov. Gina Raimondo has been working with the Black Lives Matter movement to spur change.
“We just talked about what we can do for our community, and with [Raimondo] and our community leaders, we kind of have an action plan,” Dantzler said.
Dantzler said some members of Black Lives Matter are demanding the defunding of local police departments, which has largely been met with conversations on reallocating money and resources.
But one of the most important changes, according to Dantzler, is the efforts to remove “Providence Plantations” from Rhode Island’s legal name.
“I think its about time we put that on the ballot,” Dantzler said. “It’s been a long time coming, we should’ve been doing this a long time ago. It’s very important when you see the word plantation, it’s a reminder. The mental strain and the level of racism.”