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Rhode Island toys with changing its name to avoid slavery connotations

At least two major U.S. cities — St. Louis, Missouri, and Columbus, Ohio — are facing calls to change their names due to connections to controversial historical figures. Now an entire state is talking about changing its name over connotations of slavery.

What’s happening?

Rhode Island has long had the distinction of being both the smallest state in the union and the state with the longest official name: The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

It’s the word “plantations” and its long ties to Southern slavery that have been the problem for those demanding the name change, as well as “Rhode Island’s deep involvement in the slave trade,” WPRI-TV reported.

The state’s Democratic governor, Gina Raimondo, signed an executive order Monday saying her office and all executive offices will henceforth use only “State of Rhode Island” in all official documents, websites, citations, and communications.

Raimondo’s order does not officially change the state’s name permanently, the New York Post said.

Such a change would require movement by the state legislature and a vote by the Ocean State’s citizens to amend the Rhode Island Constitution. That effort is being led by the state’s lone black senator.

State Sen. Harold Metts (D) introduced a bill Wednesday to give voters an opportunity to remove “plantations” from the state’s name and constitution, the Providence Journal reported.

Critics of the move have noted that the word “plantations” in Rhode Island in the 1600s — when the name was first created, even before the U.S. was formed — was referring to local farms, regardless of how people today understand it, WPRI noted.

For Metts, despite the actual context of the term, the word has too much historical ugliness to keep it around.

“Whatever the meaning of the term ‘plantations’ in the context of Rhode Island’s history, it carries a horrific connotation when considering the tragic and racist history of our nation,” Metts said, according to the Journal, adding, “The images that come to mind when I hear the word ‘plantations’ are of the inhuman and degrading treatment of the African-Americans who came before me, families ripped apart by slave sales, rapes and lynchings. It is a hurtful term to so many of us.”

The senator said the word is just a “painful reminder of our racist past” and should be erased.

Metts’ bill passed the state Senate unanimously and will be considered by the state House in late July, according to the Journal. Should it clear the House, the bill will be voted on by Rhode Islanders in November, WPRI said.

If that happens, it would be the second time the issue has been put before the voters. In 2010, a referendum to change the state’s name lost 78% to 22%.

What’s the name’s background?

The “plantations” portion of the name comes from the combination of the area’s name during the colonial days, Rhode Island, with multiple plantations in the area.

The most notable of those was the colony founded by Roger Williams — Providence Plantation, which included what is now the capital city of Rhode Island, according to the state’s website.

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Allie's donuts Black Lives Matter Donut shop Intelwars Police Racial Profiling Racism accusation Rhode Island watch

‘Fed up’ donut shop cancels police, military discount after alleged racial profiling incident: ‘Shame on you for your silence’

A Rhode Island donut shop posted a scathing social media message Saturday evening, blasting Providence police after a city firefighter alleged two officers racially profiled him June 3, WPRI-TV reported.

What did the message say?

“A note to the officer who profiled the Providence firefighter the other night: That is an example of terrible job performance,” the Instagram story from Allie’s Donuts said. “If you were an athlete, you’d be cut from your team. If you were our employee, we would fire you immediately. But, you are a police officer. And despite being the ones responsible for protecting the law, you may be considered ‘above it’ & face ZERO consequences for your mistakes.”

Another post from the North Kingstown shop added, “We’re fed up. Until local police takes action to solve problems with racism & injustice, Allie’s Donuts will choose to stand with the people of our great state. We will no longer offer military or police discounts. Thank you for your service, and shame on you for your silence.”

What happened next?

The North Kingstown Police Department called the posts from Allie’s Donuts “divisive.”

“We certainly do not need nor want a discount, however this message of targeting (removed hate) your police and fire departments, your local military, and your veterans is distasteful,” the police department’s post added . “Let’s start talking about how to lift UP our community and not tear it down; police themselves aren’t the problem — racism is the problem.”

In addition, some people said they’re boycotting the business to support law enforcement and military members, WJAR-TV reported.


Image source: YouTube screenshot

Not everyone feels that way, though

But on Sunday morning a long line of customers — some holding “Black Lives Matters” and “End Police Brutality” signs — stretched around Allie’s Donuts and back into the parking lot, WPRI-TV reported.

Singing a different tune

Allie’s owner and operator, Matt Drescher — whose family has run the shop for three generations — seemed to sing a slightly different tune the following day, telling WPRI that “hopefully we will not lose customers over our willingness to speak up. We respect the military for their sacrifice, and their duty. We love every policeman, every fireman, every nurse, every National Guard member, every Naval recruit and officer and all of the men and women in the Air Force, Coast Guard, Army, and armed forces.”

Drescher also took to Instagram and recorded a video reacting to the outpouring of support the shop received — selling out of donuts by 1 p.m. Sunday — and then admitting he erred with his initial social media posts.

Encouraging folks to not give in to the temptation to “insult people” and “make them feel like someone wants to be their enemy,” he said his initial “message didn’t really convey my intention. I just wanted to take away a privilege from people so that we could all be equal.”

Drescher also encouraged people to start a conversation, WJAR-TV reported.

“People in power. People with influence. Let’s discuss how to fix things. Let’s acknowledge that they need to be fixed and not ignore it and not pass blame back and forth and say, ‘What about you and what about me and what about that and why would you ignore this?’ No, something is wrong. Let’s fix it,” Drescher said, according to the station.

Anything else?

As for the racial profiling claim, WPRI said the city is investigating, but the police union vehemently disputes it.

More from WJAR:

Providence firefighter Terrell Paci told NBC 10 News he became the victim of racial profiling while in uniform this week outside of the Messer Street fire station, where he works. He said police drew their guns and claimed Paci matched the description of a suspect reportedly seen waving a gun nearby.

The Providence Fraternal Order of Police denied the allegations Saturday and said a witness told police they believed the car Paci was in contained the suspects.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza called the allegations “deeply disturbing,” that station added.


Allie’s Donuts opens to long lines and signs in support of decision to end military and police disco

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Coronavirus cough Donald Trump Infections Intelwars public schools resignation Rhode Island teacher Threat

Public school teacher accused of offering to pay coronavirus-infected people to cough on President Trump has resigned

A Rhode Island public school teacher accused of offering to pay people infected with the coronavirus to cough on President Donald Trump has resigned, WJAR-TV reported.

The Woonsocket School Committee voted 5-0 to accept a settlement agreement with Amy Bednarz on Wednesday night, the station said, adding that she tendered her resignation as part of the agreement. There was no report on other details of the settlement.

What’s the background?

“Somebody with Covid-19, I will pay you to cough on #Trump,” Bednarz allegedly tweeted in March, WJAR said.

Image source: Twitter

The user identified herself as a sixth-grade English Language Learner teacher at Villanova Middle School in Woonsocket in a subsequent post, WJAR reported, adding that the account has been deleted.

A district investigation into the Twitter post was launched in late March.

What did a state education official have to say about the tweet?

“I was saddened & disappointed to see this tweet — it is unprofessional and sends the wrong message during a time when our whole education community is setting a national example,” the state’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angelica Infante-Green tweeted. “This is not acceptable and certainly not representative of the overwhelming majority of RI teachers.”

How are folks reacting to the teacher’s resignation and settlement?

Commenters on WJAR’s Facebook page were almost universally pleased that the accused teacher resigned — but wanted more done to her:

  • “Good. She is a first class piece of crap!”
  • “Trump Derangement Syndrome…still can’t get over he won.”
  • “She needs professional help!
  • “Only in RI do teachers [who] encourage endangering the president’s life get paid to quit their jobs.”
  • “But the taxpayers still have to pony up $!”
  • “She’ll be picked up by some liberal college to teach.”

(H/T: EAG News)

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Coronavirus Coronavirus america cough COVID-19 Donald Trump Intelwars Public school teacher Rhode Island teacher

Teacher accused of asking COVID-19 victims to cough on President Trump for money — and the school district is investigating

The Woonsocket (Rhode Island) School Department is investigating a teacher accused of asking COVID-19 victims to cough on President Donald Trump, WJAR-TV reported.

“Somebody with Covid 19, I will pay you to cough on #Trump,” the tweet read, according to the station:

Image source: Twitter

The user identified herself as a sixth-grade English Language Learner teacher at Villanova Middle School in Woonsocket in a subsequent post, WJAR reported, adding that the account has been deleted. The teacher’s identity was not immediately released, the station said.

How is the school district responding?

School Committee Chairman Paul Bourget said he and Superintendent Paul McGee have been discussing the tweet since Sunday night and that an investigation started Monday to get “concrete evidence and a concrete determination,” WJAR reported.

Bourget characterized the matter as “serious” and said he expected a decision by the April 8 School Committee meeting, the station said. He also told WJAR that the committee will likely support McGee’s decision.

What did a state education official have to say?

“I was saddened & disappointed to see this tweet — it is unprofessional and sends the wrong message during a time when our whole education community is setting a national example,” the state’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angelica Infante-Green tweeted. “This is not acceptable and certainly not representative of the overwhelming majority of RI teachers.”

(H/T: The American Mirror)

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Coronavirus Gina raimondo Intelwars National Guard Rhode Island

Rhode Island is now using military personnel to ‘hunt down’ certain people over coronavirus

Rhode Island is deploying the National Guard and state police to “hunt down” certain people over the coronavirus.

According to Bloomberg News, military personnel and police officers are searching for individuals from New York who are seeking refuge in The Ocean State. Any New Yorkers found in the state will be forced to undergo a 14-day quarantine. If they do not comply, they will be subject to fines and jail time.

On Friday police began stopping cars with New York license plates. On Saturday, National Guard troops will begin going door-to-door in search of New Yorkers.

“Right now we have a pinpointed risk,” Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said on Friday. “That risk is called New York City.”

“Yesterday I announced and today I reiterated: Anyone coming to Rhode Island in any way from New York must be quarantined,” the governor said. “By order. Will be enforced. Enforceable by law,” Raimondo also said.

More from Bloomberg News:

Raimondo signed an executive order Thursday that applies to anyone who has been in New York during the past two weeks and through at least April 25. It doesn’t apply to public health, public safety, or health-care workers.

National Guard members will be stationed at the T.F. Green airport, Amtrak train stations and at bus stops. The citizen-soldiers will be following up with people at local residences. The maximum penalty for not complying: a fine of $500 and 90 days in prison.

New York leads the U.S. in coronavirus cases with more than 46,000. Rhode Island, on the other hand, has just over 200.

Governors of Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Maryland have also said New Yorkers should stay away from their states or face mandatory quarantining. Those states, however, are not hunting down New Yorkers.

In response, the American Civil Liberties Union blasted Rhode Island.

“While the Governor may have the power to suspend some state laws and regulations to address this medical emergency, she cannot suspend the Constitution,” Rhode Island ACLU executive director Steven Brown said.

“Under the Fourth Amendment, having a New York state license plate simply does not, and cannot, constitute ‘probable cause’ to allow police to stop a car and interrogate the driver, no matter how laudable the goal of the stop may be,” he added.

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Coronavirus Intelwars Rhode Island

Coronavirus has officially made its way to east coast, health officials confirm

The coronavirus has officially made its way to the east coast.

The Rhode Island Department of Health announced Sunday that it had confirmed a “presumptive positive” case of COVID-19, otherwise known as coronavirus.

Health officials said the patient is a 40-year-old man who traveled to Italy in mid-February, an area of the world that has since become a hotbed for coronavirus diagnoses. The patient’s location was not released. However, officials said the person has had “limited travel” since returning to the U.S.

More from the Providence Journal:

Outreach has begun to people who were in direct contact with the person, the Health Department says, and there are “extensive efforts underway to ensure that they undergo a period of 14 days of self-monitoring for symptoms at home with public health supervision (quarantine). As long as anyone exposed to the individual does not have symptoms outside of their home setting, the virus cannot spread to other people in the community.”

The person’s immediate family members have been self-quarantining at home since it was determined that the person met the criteria, based on travel history, to be evaluated for coronavirus, the Health Department says.

The Rhode Island Department of Health said they are monitoring 40 people who have had contact with the patient.

However, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) and said at a news conference Sunday that there is no reason to panic.

“The general level of risk for Rhode Islanders is low,” she said. “There’s no need for panic. There’s no need to be frightened.”

As of Sunday, there are now more than 70 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S., mostly on the west coast. However, a third person in Illinois was also diagnosed with coronavirus on Saturday.

Unfortunately, a Seattle-area man in his 50s was the first confirmed America to die from coronavirus, Washington state health officials announced Saturday.

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