Body cam footage shows confrontation between Providence councilwoman, officers

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Providence Police Department released body camera footage Monday evening from a confrontation last month involving a city councilwoman and several officers.

The incident occurred on July 22 and stemmed from a noise complaint against Fortnight, a wine bar on Dorrance Street, according to the police report.

The bar is known to support the Black Lives Matter movement and had signs in the window that read “abolish the police,” and “kill the cop in your mind.”

Councilwoman Kat Kerwin, who can be heard in the body cam footage stating the bar’s owner is a friend of hers, intervened in the conversation between the officers and the owner regarding the complaint.

In the body cam footage, an officer can be heard telling Kerwin to calm down. She replied, “I’m a councilwoman, please don’t tell me what to do.”

Kerwin then insisted she call the police chief and asked for the officers’ names and badge numbers.

When one officer tried explaining that they were responding to the noise complaint, Kerwin was heard saying, “They live downtown. They can f***ing get over it.”

In a statement released soon after the incident, Kerwin said the noise complaint was “extremely unlikely,” and that the bar was playing music loud enough for patrons who were sitting outside to hear.

“Fortnight is a local bar that has vocally defended the Black Lives Matter movement and supported the movement in Providence to defund the police, and they have attested to being a frequent target of harassment by the police,” Kerwin said.

“People from Fortnight and patrons told me that for the last few weeks Providence Police cars have been repeatedly driving past the bar and turning on their sirens while passing with the purpose to harass, intimidate and annoy patrons and workers,” she continued.

“It is clear to me that what I observed was an attempt to harass a small business for bravely supporting youth organizers and working alongside community leaders to defund the police,” she added. “At a time when our small businesses are suffering, this seems particularly egregious.”

Officers were also heard on body camera footage explaining to the owner the heavy police presence at the bar. One officer said that it is about safety, since people are hostile toward them when they respond to this area.

“We didn’t come here to bust you up,” he said. “We got a call for loud music. I just want you to know. In fairness to you, we don’t have a problem with anyone here.”

Ultimately, the owner agreed to turn the music off and police cleared the scene without issuing a citation.

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Providence

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