Protesters disperse long after curfew, police thankful for peaceful resolution

Providence

By midnight, the crowds of protesters had mostly dispersed and police told Eyewitness News they were thankful for the peaceful resolution.

Below is a timeline of what unfolded throughout the day:

11:30 p.m.

Providence Police Commander Thomas Verdi said there were only a handful of arrests out of the roughly 10,000 protesters who attended.

Eyewitness News reporter Caroline Goggin spoke with protesters about what this day has meant to them and what kind of world they want for their children.

Protesters have now gathered in Burnside Park as police watch from a distance to ensure everything remains peaceful.

11 p.m.

Police have arrested at least one person after some sort of altercation on the Broadway bridge above I-95.

After the arrest, the crowd began walking back toward downtown Providence. Police officers in riot gear and dozens of cruisers were seen following the large group of protesters.

10:30 p.m.

Members of the Rhode Island National Guard and State Police have broken formation outside the State House. One protester called the move “symbolic.”

“It was nice to see the police stand down,” she said.

Soon after, Eyewitness News reporter Kim Kalunian heard many protesters say they were “relieved” and that they could go home now.

The State House was cleared of protesters by 10:30 p.m., but nearly 100 people began marching down Broadway accompanied by police.

10 p.m.

Rhode Island State Police Col. James Manni spoke with Eyewitness News reporter Kim Kalunian about what transpired as the citywide curfew approached.

“I feel really good about how this was handled,” Manni said, adding that officers have not made any arrests and were able to deescalate every situation so far.

Protesters have marched to the Rhode Island Convention Center and are now confronting members of the National Guard.

Many people began blocking traffic and chanting “hands up, don’t shoot!”

9:30 p.m.

Gov. Gina Raimondo arrived at the State House and asked protesters to pray with her. She thanked everyone for keeping things peaceful and for “standing up for what matters.”

Protesters started booing Raimondo and shouting at her to “do something!” One person even shouted, “how does it feel not to be listened to?”

9 p.m.

Providence’s citywide curfew just kicked in and a large group of protesters remains outside the State House.

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office says she is monitoring the situation and “getting consistent updates” from the Rhode Island National Guard and State Police.

8:30 p.m.

Organizers are now warning protesters to disperse ahead of the curfew, telling the crowd they “don’t want to know what tear gas feels like.”

Rhode Island State Police troopers dressed in riot gear lined up along the State House steps, with members of the National Guard behind them.

Protesters could be heard chanting “who starts the violence?” and “we don’t need no riot gear!”

A protester approached an Eyewitness News reporter and gave her a pair of goggles in case tear gas is deployed.

8 p.m.

Rhode Island State Police made an announcement asking for protesters to begin dispersing. An Eyewitness News reporter on scene said the situation is getting tense.

The citywide curfew begins at 9 p.m.

7:30 p.m.

Protesters have made their way to the pedestrian bridge in Providence where they continue to rally against racial inequality.

7 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters are marching away from the Rhode Island State House while another group continues to rally outside.

Many protesters have been chanting “Where is Gina?” Gov. Gina Raimondo previously told Eyewitness News that she could not attend the rally in person but does support the movement.

On a marble pillar outside the State House, someone wrote the names of African Americans who were killed by police officers in recent years, including Eric Garner and Treyvon Martin.

6:30 p.m.

Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements said he has never seen a demonstration this large in his more than 30-year career. He estimates that more than 10,000 people are in attendance.

Eyewitness News reporter Caroline Goggin spoke with a Providence firefighter who shared a story of where he was racially profiled by two police officers earlier this week.

He shares his story in the video below:

6 p.m.

Multiple protests organized for Friday have converged outside the State House. Police tell Eyewitness News they believe there are roughly 9,000 people in attendance.

The crowd soon began shouting “Where’s Gina?” and urging the governor to join the rally.

5:30 p.m.

The first of thousands of demonstrators are beginning to arrive outside the Rhode Island State House. Many took a knee upon arrival.

Members of the Rhode Island National Guard have blocked off the entrances to the Providence Place Mall.

5 p.m.

Protesters are making their way from Kennedy Plaza to the Rhode Island State House, marching down Washington Street, which has been blocked off to traffic.

The Rhode Island National Guard and State Police are stationed along the route to ensure the safety of the demonstrators and general public.

4:30 p.m.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Providence to demand an end to systemic racism and police brutality.

Protesters are congregating at Kennedy Plaza, chanting “no justice, no peace” and holding signs supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung has issued a citywide curfew starting at 9 p.m.

Read the original story below:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Over the past week, the city of Providence has seen two vastly different public demonstrations.

Last Saturday, thousands of protesters gathered in the wake of George Floyd’s death to demand justice and call for an end to racial inequality. It was a peaceful event, marred slightly by vandalism at the State House long after the crowd dispersed.

Then, two days later, violence and destruction broke out after hundreds of people gathered downtown. Stores were damaged and looted, police officers were hurt, several of their vehicles were destroyed, and dozens of people were arrested as a result.

Another large event is planned for Friday afternoon, and both organizers and police are hoping for a peaceful demonstration.

The “Protect Black Lives Protest” was organized through Facebook and at last check, more than 1,200 said they would attend. The plan is to gather at Kennedy Plaza at 4:30 p.m. It will start with a speaking program where people can share their personal stories, followed by a march to the State House.

The event is expected to have a focus on youth. It was originally organized by 16-year-old Faith Quinnea, who said she wants to make sure people her age are connected with the national movement for justice and know that they, too, have a voice.

“I want them to know it’s inside of them,” she said Thursday. “For me, I had to look for it, I had to look for ways to use it.”

Quinnea said she hopes everything goes according to plan and stays peaceful.

“I can’t control everybody out there, but I can try and persuade and advise everybody out there, I can try my best to make sure everybody is on the same page,” she said. “But there may be some that may not have the same objectives as me and I respect that because everybody feels differently.”

(Story continues below.)

In a news conference Thursday, public safety officials said there’s “no credible information” to suggest any violence is planned on Friday, but assured the public they’ll be ready for any scenario. Police will be working with state resources and the National Guard, who will be on alert in Rhode Island at least through the weekend.

“We will do everything that we can and have a peaceful demonstration that this community wants and needs and should have,” Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said.

A citywide curfew enacted by Mayor Jorge Elorza following the violence goes into effect at 9 p.m. Friday, and police will disperse the crowds at that time.

Less than an hour before Friday’s protest, East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva issued a citywide curfew of his own beginning at the same time as Elorza’s. In a social media post, DaSilva said the decision is out of an abundance of caution and is, “based on information received and in consultation with our police department.”

The mayors of both Pawtucket and Central Falls soon followed suit, issuing 9 p.m. curfews that are set to expire Saturday at 6 a.m.

Barriers have already been set up outside the State House. Gov. Gina Raimondo said they’re preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.

On Friday morning, she held a joint news conference with Brother Gary Dantzler of Black Lives Matter RI.

Dantzler said the group has no part in the recent violence; they want peace and to eliminate systemic racism.

“There’s a difference between hating police officers and understanding police officers,” Dantzler said Friday. “We don’t hate police officers ─ let me get this clear. We understand there are some bad police officers out there and we’re trying to fix the problem.”

12 Town Hall: Race in RI »

Both leaders said the violence Monday night into Tuesday were not protesters, but agitators looking to destroy the city.

“The anger and frustration of the black community is justified and it is time — myself included — to look within ourselves and challenge ourselves to take action to find solutions,” Raimondo said.

Raimondo and Dantzler said in the days ahead, they both want to see more diversity in local police departments as well as improved training and body camera use.

Black Lives Matter members may be at Friday’s protest, but Dantzler said they’ll be taking a backseat because they don’t know enough about the organizers.

The group plans to hold a peaceful protest on Saturday in Newport.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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