Military helicopters buzzed the treetops in Providence and Newport Friday night as mock bombs and gunfire exploded, to the dismay of residents, in both cities from about 10pm to 3am. The US Army was doing a training exercise in Rhode Island.
“I live 200- 300 feet from the Armory and I was not notified that this was going to happen. It was terrifying. I can only imagine what it felt like for people with PTSD or who come from war-torn countries. I’m really concerned about their decision to do this without community consent in a densely populated neighborhood at 10pm at night,” said a resident of Providence (who did not wish to be identified for this piece) on Facebook.
The video below was taken after 10pm, approaching Armory Park. The person taking the video ran because they could not be sure the explosion wasn’t real:
Phyllis Shirley Gingerella Wade said the helicopters “were going back and forth over my house, flying very low for about 20 minutes before I saw them turn toward the Eddy St area. I am on the west end near Elmwood.
“My neighbors and I saw three black helicopters on Tuesday during the day as well.
“I am very concerned about the decision do to these exercises in this location- my immediate neighborhood (and my street specifically) is home to many refugees coming from war-torn countries. We are several blocks away from the armory, but everything was audible. There was no notice , let alone notice in the languages my neighbors speak. One of my neighbors (who is an elderly man from Syria) was visibly shaken by this last night and into this morning.”
— Organize RI (@OrganizeRI) June 10, 2017
Here’s a cleaned up version of the video above:
Karen Lee Ziner posted this picture of tree branches cut down by low flying helicopters in in her neighborhood:
Newport residents described similar a similar mock battle scene playing out over the north end of the city on Friday night.
When the military exercises were announced, no locations were were specified, but neighbors to the military maneuvers were supposed to be informed by flyer and robo calls. The flyers received by residents say that officers are available to answer questions, but provides no contact information:
“All towns scheduled to be impacted by this week’s training were notified in a coordinated effort to mitigate any potential issues,” said US Army Colonel Peter Parente, in response to my query, “My understanding is that Providence executed a multi-tiered notification process and would recommend that your organization contact the Providence EMA for specifics. I would not want to speak to their efforts. ”
Inquiries to Mayor Jorge Elorza and Governor Gina Raimondo have so far gone unanswered.
Providence resident Korben Perry wrote on Facebook:
I was just told by a young man walking nervously down Harrison St, a soldier, presumably, to not be too concerned if I heard helicopters and ‘sim rounds’ tonight, that ‘we are just doing some training.’
‘What kind of training,’ I asked.
‘Military training,’ he said.
‘What kind of military training?’
‘The army, sir,’ said the soldier, ‘Nothing too big’
I can’t decide which would be stranger: That Providence would approve this happening in any of its densely populated neighborhoods, at night!, or that I am so confused with the 1984-ness of everything right now, that I’m not surprised, and that I didn’t follow him to investigate or tell all my neighbors and at least stand together in the street and go WTF.
Finally, I have this from a resident who wished not to be identified:
“After doing an unannounced military drill with black hawk helicopters and simulated gun noises, the fucking military dudes handed out glow sticks to traumatized kids in the neighborhood. No lie.”