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Jul 15, 20

Providence, RI: Abolitionists Rally Outside Governor’s Mansion

Report back from recent abolitionist demonstration in Providence outside the home of the Governor of Rhode Island.

On Sunday July 12th, Making Abolition Though Collective Humanity (MATCH), an informal collective of prison and police abolitionists, and about 25 other activists took police by surprise with a disruption at the mansion of Rhode Island Governor, Gina Raimondo. A small group of activists with their own objectives to speak with the Governor showed up with a megaphone prior to the scheduled event, and dozens of State and Providence police quickly poured in to protect their politician and the wealthy neighborhood’s private property.

Providence police car number 15 rammed into protesters; fortunately no injuries were reported. Police were able to cordon off car access to the mansion because of an uncoordinated, divided initial mobilization. This was a strategic error in our opinion and something the movement must reflect on and prevent in the future.

A procession of five to ten vehicles showed up around 9 PM to demonstrate in favor of the abolition of police and prisons. We honked horns obnoxiously, blared Sound of da Police with portable speakers (which annoyed the police immensely) and set off fireworks. Neighbors watched from their porches.

While some neighbors might argue that this action went too far, we believe escalations are warranted. Governor Raimondo was given the opportunity to take action toward police abolition for weeks, as relatively non-disruptive, yet powerful, massive protests took place on the streets of Providence and elsewhere throughout the State. She instead paid lip service to the movement by prioritizing symbolic gestures over material action.

As some other States and cities move toward defunding the police, Raimondo instead proposed a State budget which increases funding for both police and prisons. Currently, Rhode Island ranks fifth in the United States for having the largest spending gap between money spent on students and prisoners: the State spends $15,532 per year on each student and $58,564 on each prisoner. Students deserve much better funding, and people deserve to be free.

Statements crafted in response to the demonstrations from local politicians about the recent home demos both reference continued dialogue with “Black leaders,” a tokenizing sentiment that treats Black people as a monolith and tacitly suggests Black working class folks need Black professionals to speak on their behalf.

Many white liberals may defend Governor Raimondo, claiming that she has helped keep Rhode Islander’s safe during the pandemic. Our response would be: who is she keeping safe? Not the predominantly Black and brown people who have been forced to work throughout the pandemic in order to keep capitalism afloat. Not the working class Black and brown people who face continual harassment and violence in our own neighborhoods by police.

We will be back and we encourage all who value autonomous resistance, with the ultimate goal of abolition, to join us. Let us not recreate rule and governance, the source of all oppression, within our movement spaces.

Signed,

Making Abolition Through Collective Humanity (MATCH)
[email protected]

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