PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Dozens of people gathered outside the State House Wednesday evening to call for change following the killing of a Black man in Minneapolis last weekend.
Daunte Wright was killed during a traffic stop when a white officer shot him as he was struggling with police. The officer, a 26-year veteran of the force, said she had intended to pull her Taser and instead fired her handgun. She has since been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
The demonstration was organized by Black Lives Matter Rhode Island Political Action Committee, a group made up of young Rhode Islanders that formed last summer.
Executive Director Harrison Tuttle tells 12 News they’ve had enough.
“Often times, in the Black and brown community, this is almost like deja vu,” Tuttle said. “We are not done grieving over the last victim. It’s a continuous struggle of grief.”
Demonstrators are calling not only for change nationally, but locally as well.
Dion Baker said he’s frustrated because police departments aren’t protecting everyone like they’re supposed to.
“They are supposed to serve and protect everyone,” Baker said. “If you are taking away innocent lives, unarmed Black men, then you are not there to serve and protect everyone.”
Tuttle said meaningful change can start with those who attended the rally.
“I’m hoping that people felt like they walked out of this with solutions,” he said. “A way for people to say ‘I’m here, but this is just the start’ … I think the community members here offered solutions that are sustainable.”
Tuttle hopes politicians look at demonstrations like this one and not only listen, but act.
“Unity through action means that we are unified through one goal, and that goal is to fight for the people,” Tuttle said. “That goal is to be able to reallocate funds in all systems of government.”
“Let’s hold our elected officials accountable,” Baker added. “Not just locally, but across our entire nation.”
In a statement, Gov. Dan McKee said he supports Wednesday’s demonstration.
“It’s a tragedy and an outrage that we continue to see Black Americans killed by law enforcement,” McKee said. “It’s even more heartbreaking to lose Daunte Wright at the same time that Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd.”
“Rhode Island’s state and local police officers are dedicated to keeping us safe. We need to work with law enforcement to make sure that officers are only using force as a last resort,” he continued. “Black Lives Matter, and we must all work together to make sure that these killings don’t happen in Rhode Island, and that we’re taking steps to root out systemic racism from government at every level.”
The demonstration remained peaceful, however, Providence Police Commander Thomas Verdi tells 12 News a man was arrested for carrying a loaded pistol without a permit.