STATE HOUSE – The Rhode Island flag atop the State House and at all other state facilities will fly at half-staff this Friday through Monday to honor the nine people killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. last week.
Rep. Joseph S. Almeida, Rep. Aaron Regunberg and Rep. Grace Diaz asked Gov. Gina Raimondo to lower the flag in honor the victims.
“Our whole nation is in mourning for more black lives that have been senselessly taken. Here in Rhode Island, we will recognize both these individuals — all innocent victims who lost their lives in a place that represents peace and the struggle for freedom — and the hard work that is still ahead of this country when it comes to wiping out racism and hate,” said Representative Almeida (D-Dist 12, Providence).
Said Representative Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence), “We have a deep and horrifying problem in this country, whether we see it in the murder of unarmed black youth by law enforcement, or the mistreatment of black teens trying to visit their local swimming pool, or the massacre of black community members — including a sitting state senator — as they prayed together in their house of worship. And that’s why I think it’s particularly urgent for all of us to join together today around our shared values and ideals to publicly affirm for our state that yes, Black Lives Matter.”
Representative Diaz (D-Dist. 11, Providence) said, “Lowering our flag sends a message that we in Rhode Island are affected and saddened by this terrible crime, and that we stand together against those who would divide us. All of this country must stand up and shout that there is no place where hate will be tolerated.”
The legislators asked the governor to lower the flag after being approached with the idea by community activist Chace Baptista, who said the symbolic act would acknowledge that the effects of such a tremendous tragedy are felt here in Rhode Island, as well as all over the country.
“In this day and age, when something happens in South Carolina, it isn’t just in South Carolina. It’s also happening in Rhode Island. It doesn’t matter where these sorts of injustices are happening, because we are all affected. Now, more than ever, everybody has to start caring and doing the work necessary to have real racial equality and equity,” said Baptista. “It’s important that, as a state, we do this because it sends a message to all families, especially families of color, that their lives matter. “