PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dozens of people gathered outside a Providence library Wednesday in solidarity after a group of Neo-Nazis interrupted a community reading there earlier this week.
The Red Ink Community Library on Camp Street was celebrating the 174th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto Monday evening when the group began banging on the windows and shouting obscenities, according to David Raileanu, the library’s director.
“They were shouting some slurs and using some harsh and foul language, mostly with the intention of making us feel unwelcome and that what we were doing was not what they consider to be acceptable in their community,” Raileanu said.
Gov. Dan McKee was among the crowd of people showing their support for the library Wednesday.
“We need to make sure we send a very strong message that this type of behavior … there is no place for that in our state,” McKee said.
Raileanu said the support Red Ink has received from the community has been encouraging.
“As a person whose Jewish heritage stretches back more than 100 years in the city of Providence, to have the support of the Jewish community and know that they are standing up and raising their voices against this kind of hatred and violence is very meaningful to me,” he said.
Herlin Perry, a resident of Camp Street, was one of the community members who organized the gathering.
“I just wanted to make sure that everyone comes together in love,” Perry said. “Love has no color to its skin, love is just in the soul. Good people are good people and bad people are bad people, no matter what color you are and no matter what religion or nationality you are.”
Perry hopes to turn a negative into a positive by using this as an opportunity to meet his neighbors and come together as a community.
“Strong is what we need to be in the face of hate,” Perry said.
Chris Abhulime, McKee’s deputy chief of staff and pastor at The King’s Tabernacle in Johnston, said gatherings like these send an important message.
“Our black and brown community has endured enough. We have suffered enough, and we don’t need to live in fear because of folks who hate our way of life,” Abhulime said. “There’s no place for hate in Rhode Island.”
Raileanu said Red Ink will continue to host discussions to ensure the neighborhood remains a safe space for everyone.
Red Ink is holding a virtual community forum Saturday morning to brainstorm strategies for collective security.