CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Off-duty Cranston police officers have been asked to report at 7 p.m. and prepare along with the rest of the department for a potential violent protest at Garden City Center, possibly linked to the melee at Providence Place that injured nine police officers and damaged several stores.
Late in the afternoon, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon ordered citywide curfews from 8 p.m. Tuesday to 5 a.m. Wednesday out of concern for public safety.
Several individuals in the Tuesday morning Providence crowd referenced George Floyd, a black man killed last Monday after he was pinned to the ground by a now charged Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes.
A group text message sent to city officers referenced “planned violence at Warwick Mall and Garden City,” possibly alluding to a number of social media posts that included threats about Tuesday and Friday.
Cranston police spokesman Major Todd Patalano said the department is taking the threat seriously.
“We have to take it as a credible threat,” he said. “We will be prepared for tonight.”
A message posted in the early afternoon on Garden City’s Facebook page stated, “for the safety of our community, all of our stores and restaurants will be closed by 4:00 p.m.”
“Please be safe,” the message said.
Solomon said he and Warwick Police Chief Rick Rathbun are aware “locations in Warwick have been mentioned as possible targets for protests and/or riots.”
“While I will not discuss any specific information or details, I am in very close contact with Colonel Rathbun,” Solomon said. “We have a plan in place should a situation arise in Warwick.”
According to Providence police, as many as 300 people crowded in front of Providence Place around midnight, of which around 100 were able to get inside the building, where they allegedly looted and vandalized about a dozen businesses.
Outside, at least two police cruisers were vandalized with one set on fire. Sixty-five people were arrested, and nine officers were injured, police said.
Fung said in a text message to Target 12 he has “full confidence” in the city’s police department.
“[Cranston police] actively assisted Providence and were also prepared for any situation in Cranston,” Fung wrote. “We are monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis and will be ready to address any issues that may arise.”
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Colonel James Manni, Supt. of the R.I. State Police, was asked about helping local police handle future incidents.
“We’re working closely with every police department in the state through our fusion center and through the R.I. Police Chiefs’ Association to assess every threat,” Manni said.