Mayor Elorza lifts Providence curfew order

Providence

Protesters stayed out past the curfew on Friday night, but remained largely peaceful.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said Saturday he is lifting his 9 p.m. curfew order, three days before it was set to expire.

Elorza’s spokesperson Emily Crowell said the decision was made with the recommendation of public safety officials after the peaceful protest in the city on Friday.

Elorza implemented the curfew on Tuesday after looters wreaked havoc on the city overnight Monday into Tuesday, damaging dozens of businesses and setting a police cruiser on fire. The goal of the curfew was to give police a tool to disperse crowds after dark to potentially prevent violence, and it was originally set to continue until June 9.

But there have been no significant issues since then, and a massive protest on Friday was largely peaceful and resulted in only a handful of arrests out of more than 10,000 attendees, according to police.

“Yesterday, we came together as one city and as one voice to say loud and clear that Black Lives Matter,” Elorza said in a statement. “I want to thank everyone for a peaceful night and for showing this country what unity and strength looks like. May we build off of that sense of community that we all felt and work together to end institutional racism in our community.”

Elorza also encouraged people who attended Friday’s protest to “closely monitor themselves for any symptoms” of COVID-19.

“If you feel sick, please get tested so we continue to see improvements in health outcomes statewide,” Elorza said.

The Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU had also strongly opposed the curfew, arguing it could lead to discriminatory enforcement.

Providence firefighter Terrell Paci told WPRI 12 on Friday that he was racially profiled during the curfew order, confronted by officers who drew their weapons on Tuesday night while he was standing outside the Messer Street fire station during his work shift.

“I was dressed in full uniform and had my radio in hand,” Paci said in a live interview with reporter Caroline Goggin during the protest. “I was like, ‘I’m a firefighter, I’m PFD, I’m one of you’ and they still kept approaching the vehicle with guns drawn.”

“After identifying me as a Providence firefighter, one officer asked if I had a gun in the vehicle,” he continued. “I said, ‘no I am not allowed to carry a firearm while on duty, I am an essential worker and I’m not breaking curfew.’”

Providence Police say they are investigating the incident.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) covers Providence, politics and more for WPRI 12. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook

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