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Protests erupt in Providence following a grand jury’s decision to not charge officers

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Alexis Rapoza

News Editor

PROVIDENCE, R.I., — On Wednesday, September 23rd, protesters took to the streets in Providence, blocking the on-ramp near the Providence Place Mall and marching through downtown Providence. The protesters were marching to show their opposition to a Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to charge the three officers involved with the botched raid that resulted in the death of 26-year-old emergency room technician, Breonna Taylor.

In a livestream posted by UpriseRI, protesters can be seen chanting Taylor’s name and chanting “Black Lives Matter” as they march through the streets, at some points partially blocking traffic. In the days following the Wednesday decision protesters have continued to take place in Providence and throughout the state.

In contrast, other protests taking place in other parts of the country in which demonstrators and police have clashed resulting in mass arrests and curfew enforcements, the Providence protests were primarily peaceful. However, on Wednesday police were seen spraying protesters with what appeared to be pepper spray, when they attempted to block after warnings from the police to stay out of the highway.Providence Police were heard telling demonstrators, “You can protest, but you can’t protest out here. Protest in the city. You protest out here you got a bigger problem. You’ll get hit by a car and killed.”

According to UpriseRI, the protesters were then ordered to climb over a chain-link fence onto Hayes Street near the Providence Place Mall. Despite this clash between protesters and law enforcement, Providence police say no arrests were made

In response to the lack of charges being brought upon the officers responsible for Taylor’s death, Black Lives Matter Rhode Island’s senior director told NBC 10 News, “Justice Doesn’t look like what we saw today. That doesn’t look like justice and that is where you see the fire coming from. It’s time, it’s time. We can’t act like it’s not time.”

Bernice Morris, who is also with Black Lives Matter Rhode Island stated, “It's despicable what they reported today in terms of the indictment, just disputable that they can shoot a woman, a Black woman, just in her bed, in her own home and no one is held responsible.”

Breonna Taylor, who has been at the center of Black Lives Matter demonstrations across Rhode Island, was killed by police officers shortly after midnight on March 13th, in Louisville, Kentucky. The police believed that two men, including an ex-boyfriend of Taylor’s, were involved with selling drugs and the police believed they could be using Taylor’s home as a drop-off point. Controversy has stemmed from the resulting raid, due to conflicting stories from police, neighbors and Taylor’s current boyfriend Kenneth Walker in regards to whether the police announced themselves before barreling down the apartment door. However, following the shooting it was revealed that police had been granted a “no-knock warrant” which allows police to enter a home without warning.

Walker stated that he believed someone was breaking into the apartment because he did not hear the police announce themselves and fired his gun striking Sergeant Mattingly in the thigh. The police fired more than 25 rounds, five of which struck Taylor and ultimately killed her. No drugs were found on the property as a result of the raid.

Three officers were involved with the shooting yet only one officer was charged although the charges were not in regards to Taylor’s death. Louisville detective, Brett Hankison was indicted on Wednesday on charges of wanton endangerment for firing 10 shots blindly into the windows of neighboring apartments.

Morris stated that Black Lives Matter Rhode Island would continue to organize until systematic change was made. She stated, “We get to raise our voice, we get to make noise and we're going to get to do that until there are changes made. The criminal system is completely racist, they proved that today.”



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