After viewing the raw, unedited video of last night’s protests on the street outside the Governor’s home, I will say that as a candidate for Attorney General, I am concerned with the overwhelming show of force used by the State Police for what appeared to be Constitutionally protected free speech and protest. While I have respect for all law enforcement and know they have difficult jobs, including the protection of the Governor, I am just as concerned with protecting the rights of Rhode Islanders to express their outrage and frustration at government officials in a peaceful manner.

Media reports indicate two individuals were arrested on misdemeanor/petty misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing a police officer in the execution of duty, and resisting arrest. Those same media reports, along with the State Police, confirm those individuals were held overnight in a jail cell to be arraigned the next morning instead of having an authorized bail commissioner arraign them at the State Police barracks and set bail last night, or simply be given a summons to appear for a court date in the future. Both individuals appear to be Rhode Island residents without any criminal record. Based upon those facts and the nature of the charges, the current District Court criminal protocols in place would have been to issue them a summons and order them to appear in court for a formal arraignment, not sit a jail cell overnight just to have a bail commissioner come the next morning, particularly when bail commissioners are available 24/7. This decision to hold these two individuals overnight seems to have been made with the express purpose of sending a message to all those who would dare to engage in a peaceful protest: do it at your own peril –  a message completely inconsistent with the rule of law in this state and this country. I call on the State Police and now the Attorney General to explain to the public why two Rhode Island residents with no criminal history, accused of minor criminal offenses, were not admitted to bail before this morning or simply given a summons to appear in court for “non-priority” cases per current Rhode Island District Court criminal protocols.

Charles “Chas” Calenda
Friends of Charles Calenda

PO Box 946

Coventry, RI 02816

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