Black Lives Matter Rhode Island announced on Thursday that they will host a Rally for Justice and Equality on Saturday, June 6th in Newport.
The event is scheduled to begin at 3 pm and says it will take place at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 20 Dr. Marcus F. Wheatland Blvd.
The Facebook Event states “The next Black Lives Matter Rhode Island peaceful protest is happening this Saturday in Newport. Come out and support.”
Heather Strout, Executive Director of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center , told What’s Up Newp on Friday morning that she had not been contacted by the organizers and found out about it at just about the same time as everyone else, she said “however we support a peaceful protest to gather our community together as one”.
Update: The City of Newport issued the following statement on Friday afternoon.
The City of Newport and its community partners are preparing to welcome demonstrators to Aquidneck Island on Saturday, June 6th for a planned peaceful demonstration sparked by the murder of George Floyd.
As a City, we fully support those who wish to exercise their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble and will do our part to make sure that any and all demonstrations are carried out in as safe a manner as possible.
The City has been in contact with the organizers, who notified the Police Department of their plans on Thursday prior to their announcement, and are working with various community and law enforcement partners who will be doing everything we can to make sure the demonstration is as peaceful and inspiring as the organizers have envisioned.
Organizers have informed us that the event, which is scheduled to take place at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, will feature a number of speakers and they do not anticipate hosting a march or walk as part of the gathering.
Due to the location, police will be on hand to provide traffic control and ensure pedestrian safety and traffic detours may be required depending on crowd size.
The City is also encouraging all those joining the demonstration to please wear a mask and to be mindful of the very real risk still posed by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak – both for themselves, and the entire community.
On a flyer on Facebook, Black Lives Rhode Island says “we will be protesting the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis PD”.
Black Lives Matter Rhode Island is not an official chapter of Black Lives Matter Global Network, according to Black Live Matter Foundation’s website.
Black Lives Matter Foundation was founded in 2013 by Patrisse Cullors, Opal Rometi, and Alicia Garza in reponse to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. According to their website, “Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives”.
Governor Gina Raimondo’s office announced this morning that the Governor will join Black Lives Matter RI’s Brother Gary Dantzler to discuss racial justice in Rhode Island at 10:30 am this morning.
Last Saturday, Black Live Matter Rhode Island hosted a George Floyd Rally in Providence. According to reports, the event drew about 2,000 people.
After violence and destruction erupted in downtown Providence earlier this week, the leaders of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island told WPRI that they do not support that kind of behavior. Gary Dantzler and Mark Fisher of Black Lives Matter R.I. said there is a difference between their peaceful protest this past weekend and the violence that occurred early Tuesday morning.
Both men told WPRI earlier this week that their organization is “all about non-violence, and while they’re angry, they would never condone the looting and destruction that occurred in Providence”.
Following the destruction in Providence, some business owners in Newport took a better safe than sorry approach and began boarding up their windows and businesses.
On Tuesday, Butler Basketball Club said threats forced them to postpone their ‘Peace Love Unity’ march that was scheduled for this Sunday.
On Wednesday, the City of Newport issued the following statement related to the ongoing nationwide protests;
As the nation continues to mourn the murder of George Floyd, the City of Newport stands ready to do our part to protect and support all those who wish to exercise their Constitutional right to peacefully assemble.
While we are not aware of any credible threats to the City of Newport or Aquidneck Island, our public safety personnel are actively taking precautions to prepare for any potential unrest.
As a City, we strive every day to ensure the health and safety of our residents, business owners, and visitors alike.
At this point, there are no plans to institute a curfew or place any restrictions on commercial corridors, however we are closely monitoring developments around the state and the region and are working in close coordination with our local and statewide partners in order to ensure the safety of our community and prevent any destruction of property.
This story is developing.
What’s Up Newp reached out to Black Live Matter Rhode Island, Black Lives Matter Foundation, and Black Live Matter Boston for comment. As of publishing time, we had not received any responses. We’ll update this story when and if we hear back from these organizations.