PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Several hundred people gathered Sunday outside of the Rhode Island State House to call on the state and the city of Providence to “defund the police.”
Organizers say they want to divert funding away from law enforcement and prisons and direct it toward social programs that help provide housing, healthcare, education, and job security.
“It means taking the money from the police budget that’s proposed for 2021 and putting it towards the community so we have more home ownership, so we have more youth programs, youth jobs,” explained Brooklyn Toussaint, a youth activist and founder of the group ProvX.
“We’ve been showing up to legislators’ houses, we’ve been coming to the State House over and over,” she said. “We landed a meeting with the speaker of the House. We’ve gotten the mayor to come out to events. We’re putting the pressure on everyone.”
The rally is one of several held in recent months following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Providence police leaders have previously pushed back on the idea of defunding police, saying it’s not the the answer.
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Later Sunday night, some members of the rally demonstrated outside of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s home, hoping to engage her in conversation.
“Governor Raimondo has made a lot of symbolic gestures in response to the movement, but it doesn’t really matter until she puts her money where her mouth is, right?” Mie Inouye of ReclaimRI said Sunday. “And so the state budget is a great opportunity to do that especially since we have to make a lot of tough choices, as she has said publicly.”