Friday night’s #ThisStopsToday march through downtown Providence was filled with excitement and drama.
The march and rally was held to draw attention to the violence against black and brown persons being perpetrated across the country by police departments that routinely engage in racial profiling and police brutality. Many see the problem as systemic, that is, racism is cooked into policing so completely that you can’t have one without the other.
- Photos from Friday night’s #ThisStopsToday protest
- Voices from Friday nights’ #ThisStopsToday protest
So protesters took to the streets of Providence, and at one point made an abortive attempt to shut down the highway as they did on November 25th. Though it has been reported elsewhere that the Providence Police and the State Police repelled the protesters, in truth it was the protesters themselves that prevented the shutdown. The video below is from two cameras, the first by me, the second by Adam Miner. You will see some protesters jump the fence, but many in the crowd call them back, saying, “It’s too soon!” and “the energy isn’t right.” By the time the police arrive, the protesters are already working their way back to the fence.
The first of the two “Die-Ins” was staged at the corner of Empire St and Washington, near Trinity Rep. The two videos below are the same event from two cameras. The second camera was operated by Adam Miner.
More dramatic was the second Die-In at the corner of Memorial Blvd and Francis St, in front of the highway on-ramp near the Providence Place Mall. Here the protesters lay on the ground, thumping their chests to the rhythm of a heartbeat.
“That’s a heartbeat,” said an organizer, “something we have the privilege of hearing. Other people don’t.”
After the second Die-In the protesters attempted to enter the Providence Place Mall. This is when the Providence Police became physical, strong arming the protesters out the door and physically preventing their entry. This might have been the most fraught moment of the evening, from my perspective.
A lot has been said about the irresponsibility of the protesters in blocking the roads, or blocking the highways in regards to delaying or preventing ambulances from being able to respond to emergencies. Last night the protesters encountered an ambulance, and their reaction is worth noting:
By now I’ve spoken to several people who were on the highway on November 25th. They tell me that when the police first arrived on the scene the protesters tried to negotiate an open lane for emergency vehicles, but the police refused to negotiate.
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