Raimondo: George Floyd death, protests should be a wake-up call


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo says the death of George Floyd and the protests in response have to be a wake-up call for all Americans.

The death of Floyd, a black man killed by police in Minnesota last Monday, was captured on video by bystanders pleading with police to let him free. The video shows former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd down with his knee at Floyd’s neck until Floyd was unconscious. He later died.

Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers in the video have not been charged.

Protests around the country came in the days following Floyd’s death, with some resulting in violence, vandalism and looting. A day of peaceful protesting in Boston turned into riots and police officers were injured, police cruisers were damaged, and at least 40 people were arrested on the street.

In Rhode Island, a protest was held in Providence Saturday afternoon. A group first rallied at Burnside Park before marching to the State House.

Police reported a largely peaceful rally, with no arrests made. Much later that night, however, acts of vandalism were reported.

Rhode Island State Police responded to find explicit messages spray-painted on the State House steps and entrance, and two glass doors shattered. At the time, police say about 50 protesters were assembled.

On a phone call with reporters Monday morning, Raimondo said she spoke with African American faith leaders over the weekend. She said the theme of those conversations focused on pain and anger.

The governor did not have any new policies to announce Monday, but said she will first commit to engaging and listening to concerns of young people and people of color.

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“As a white woman of privilege, I don’t know what it’s like to be fearful of going for a jog and being discriminated against or attacked,” Raimondo said. “People like me need to do a lot more listening with humility before we can commit to specific actions.”

On the vandalism at the State House, Raimondo said any form of vandalism is unacceptable, adding those who participated will be prosecuted. However, she said what’s driving the vandalism needs to be acknowledged, as well.

“We all need to ask ourselves in whatever walk of life we find ourselves, what more can we do to bring about a more equal and more just America, and what more can we do to fight back against racism on an individual level and institutional level?” Raimondo said.

The governor said she is in constant contact with the state police, adding that the current approach in regards to protesting is to deescalate while encouraging the voluntary compliance with social distancing and public health guidelines in place due to COVID-19. She also noted she was proud of the protesters in Rhode Island this weekend for remaining peaceful and compliant.

Raimondo also acknowledged members of the press, noting those reporting on the front line of the protests have been put in danger or arrested by police for doing their job.

“You have my respect and support, and I hope that you’ll have the courage to continue doing what you’re doing,” Raimondo said directly to reporters on the call.

Video Now: Governor Raimondo addresses governors phone call with President Trump

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