Nonviolence Institute: Looting, riots pollute push for social justice


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The overnight violence in Providence was like a scene out of a movie, according to Tarah Dorsey, a senior street worker from the Nonviolence Institute of Providence.

“Things we’ve seen on TV played out before my eyes,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey watched as hundreds of people gathered outside the Providence Place Mall early Tuesday morning. She said she saw people storm the mall and watched in disbelief as people torched a police cruiser.

The violence stems from the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who was pinned down by an officer who kneeled on his neck, despite the fact he was pleading that he couldn’t breathe.

When she returned home she found it hard to process the violent scene, which she now has to explain to her 5-year-old daughter.

“I’m talking to my 5-year-old when she’s watching TV and she’s wondering what’s going on,” Dorsey said. “She’s wondering ‘where are you going?’ and I explain what you see on TV is where I’m going. She says ‘are you going to be safe?’ I say ‘yes I am.'”

Dorsey and the team at the Nonviolence Institute are preparing for continued unrest in Rhode Island over the next few days.

But they don’t want what transpired in Providence to happen again.

“People have the right to be upset, but we just don’t want our city destroyed,” Director of Street Outreach Juan Carter said.

Carter said his job is to prevent and intervene in violent situations. He said riots and looting pollute the messages surrounding social justice.

“That’s what we’re trying to do during this time is be seen, right? The people in this community trust us, so if they do see us out there, maybe they will listen and walk away from these riots,” Carter said.

“What we wanna do is just kind of bring everyone together,” Streetworker Michael Murray added. “It starts with yourself first and you being able to touch those closest to you and then those people being able to reach out to more, and then in turn building this big, beloved community model we like to follow at the institute.”

Members of the institute said they believe there will be more peaceful protests in Rhode Island, but any incidents like what happened in Providence would ruin the message.

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