July 21, 2022
Parker Gavigan, Director of Communications
Councilors Propose a Law to Ban Smoking Marijuana in Public Parks, Establish an African American War Memorial Commission, and Call for a Review of License Plate Reader Cameras
Marijuana in Parks
Providence, RI – Councilors tonight introduced an ordinance to ban the sale and use of marijuana in all city parks after state law recently made recreational cannabis legal. “Providence is a smoke-free city. Children, their families, and anyone immunocompromised should not have to breathe in smoke while enjoying our beautiful parks. This is a public health concern,” said Council President John Igliozzi (Ward 7), who sponsored the amendment, which would expand on current city law. Presently, an ordinance exists prohibiting tobacco products in city parks, playgrounds, and recreational centers. A violation of the law would be punishable by a civil fine of $50. The legislation was referred to the committee on ordinances.
Establishment of Providence African American Revolutionary War Memorial Commission
At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilors established the Providence African American Revolutionary War Memorial Commission, as proposed by Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14). The five-member commission will work to create a monument honoring the African American soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War. “The history of the Revolutionary War is one that is felt deeply here in Rhode Island, as is the history of slavery. It is moving to hear the stories of enslaved men who fought for their own individual freedom and the freedom of our nation by enlisting in the Rhode Island 1st Regiment. This commission will come together to create a monument that will honor the bravery and sacrifices of the black men who endured slavery and war in pursuit of the freedom that we hold so dear today,” said Councilor Salvatore. In Rhode Island, 140 black men served in the 1st Rhode Island Regiment under the leadership of Colonel Christopher Greene. The first two black men from Providence to enlist in March of 1778 were Africa Burke and Sigby Talbot. The Rhode Island 1st Regiment carries the distinction of being one of the few units to serve the entirety of the war. “African Americans were surprisingly invited to lay down their lives for the founding of this nation. As we approach America’s 250th anniversary, Stages of Freedom joins Councilor Salvatore in his effort to erect a major monument to the brave Black men of Providence who fought for independence. We believe that such a memorial will serve both as a public educational lesson and a spiritual uplift. Providence, the state, and the nation are in the midst of a deep political dialogue about the role African Americans played in the formation of this country. It is clear the Providence City Council is acknowledging their importance in this pivotal historic event,” added Ray Rickman, Executive Director, Stages of Freedom. To learn more about the African American Revolutionary War Memorial commission, click here.
License Plate Cameras
A resolution sponsored by Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1), Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), and Councilor Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), requested the Providence Police Department refrain from implementing automated license plate reader technology until the Council has had an opportunity to review the Department’s plans, its proposed policy, and the opportunity to solicit public input. “The proposed cameras represent far-reaching technology that poses significant civil liberties concerns. We have an obligation to residents to have a transparent public process that includes guidelines on how data is used, collected, stored, and destructed by a city agency or external contractors before steps are taken towards implementation,” said Councilor Rachel Miller. “I agree that criminals and violent offenders need to be held fully accountable and that technology can be a useful tool for enhancing public safety and security for Providence residents. However, law-abiding citizens should not be subject to a continuous surveillance system without public oversight on how their data and privacy are collected and used by a third party. If any technology of this scale is to be implemented, it must also be subject to restrictions and statutory safeguards codified via ordinance to govern this technology and protect the First Amendment rights and the civil liberties of our residents,” added Councilman Goncalves. The resolution was referred to the finance committee.
The full meeting agenda can be viewed here.