Four arrested during weekend protest in Providence arraigned


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Four people who were arrested during a protest outside the Providence Public Safety Complex over the weekend faced a judge Wednesday morning.

Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements said the protest, which took place Saturday night, was “contentious in the very beginning.”

“We promote safe, peaceful protests. We will not tolerate violence,” he said.

Five arrests came out of about 150 people who attended the protest, yet only four were arraigned in Providence District Court on Wednesday.

Those four individuals include:

  • Lauren Matthais, 30, of South Kingstown. Matthais is charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
  • Michael Simpson, 24, of Providence. Simpson is charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing police.
  • Ella Fassler, 27, of Pawtucket. Fassler is charged with unlawful use of a laser and obstruction.
  • Gregory Wakmulski, 38, of Pawtucket. Wakmulski is charged with obstructing police in execution of duty.

Both Matthais and Simpson said at their arraignments that they plan to hire attorneys and Falser asked the court for a public defender.

Judge Stephen Isherwood explained to Falser why police take incidents with lasers so seriously by using an example from his time as a high school basketball referee.

“My partner said to me, ‘Don’t do anything reactionary right now but there’s a laser on your back, we need to exit the building.’ Sometimes lasers are attached to guns,” Isherwood said.

A spokesperson for Providence Public Schools tells Eyewitness News that Wakmulski is a volunteer and member of the community advisory board.

Matthais, Simpson, Wakmulski and Fassler were all released on cash bail. The four defendants declined to comment on the charges they are facing.

Joan Steffen, 27, of Quincy, Mass., was also arrested on Saturday. She is charged with three felony counts of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. She is expected to be arraigned sometime in October.

The four individuals arraigned will be back in court on Oct. 1 for pre-trial hearings.

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