PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Authorities in Providence say they made just nine arrests after one of the largest protests in recent history in the Rhode Island capital — a Black Lives Matter demonstration that drew at least 10,000 peaceful protesters.
Thousands gathered downtown at Kennedy Plaza Friday afternoon before marching to the Statehouse, where the crowd swelled in size. Many chanted, “No justice, no peace,” and “I can’t breathe” — George Floyd’s plea in his last moments to the white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into the handcuffed black man’s neck on Memorial Day.
Police, some of whom knelt in solidarity with demonstrators, said only a few unruly protesters were taken into custody, most after several hundred people lingered well beyond a 9 p.m. curfew.
Leaders in Manchester, including Mayor Joyce Craig, called for two aldermen to resign after reportedly making inflammatory comments about protesters on social media.
Alderman-At-Large Joe Kelly Levasseur told protesters, “Go ahead make their day,” implying a police crackdown was coming. He later said he was referring people espousing violence, not peaceful protesters.
And Ward 8 Alderman Michael Porter is accused of suggesting protesters should be removed with a “big old plow truck.” He later clarified that the truck should be parked to block protesters — not used to push demonstrators away with the plow.
Craig and seven other Manchester aldermen issued a statement Friday calling for Levasseur and Porter to apologize and resign.
The pair’s actions “are an embarrassment to the people of Manchester and an insult to everyone who is working to bring positive change to our city, state, and nation,” they wrote.
The largest demonstration against police mistreatment of black people in Maine stretched over nearly eight hours. And more protests were planned over the weekend across the state.
The crowd swelled to about 2,000 people Friday evening in Portland. The group had a massive “die-in” on Commercial Street, marched to the police headquarters and rallied in Deering Oaks Park.
“The police have treated me like a criminal rather than a victim,” Tiara Ross of Survivor Speak, an organization for sex trafficking victims, told the group. “When I would go to stores and plazas, they would follow me in their cruisers. I am tired.”
The demonstration organized by Black Lives Matter began after a visit to Bangor and Guilford by President Donald Trump.