Can Anyone Stop the East Side-Chad Brown 25 Year Gang Rivalry?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


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Can the decades long feud between warring neighborhood factions in Providence -- Mt. Hope and Chad Brown in particular -- ever be put to rest?

In the days following the recent shooting at Chad Brown, community leaders have been addressing the violence in the city -- and decades old rivalries between neighborhoods. 

"That's what's ingrained in Providence, there's these family feuds where it's OK to grab a block, and shoot up anyone not on your block," said Providence City Councilman Luis Aponte.  "How's it going to stop?  Someone standing up and saying enough is enough -- at some point you have to address this at where you can be most effective."

"We've got finite resources, and where do we place those resources.  If you're committed to combating violence, who do you save?  We'll never have enough resources to put a cop on every corner, unless there's a shift in community perspective," said Aponte.  "It needs to be, 'If you do it, I'll tell on you.'"

Providence CIty Councilman Kevin Jackson, who represents the Mt. Hope District on the East Side, said any attempt to address the long standing neighborhood rivalries "has to first start with the families."

"To even go back -- I don't think they even know how it even started," said Jackson.  "You need to try and make them a strong force, those people that have been affected most.  This needs to be happening 365 days a year, and not just be reactionary to events.  We need our feet on the ground, and the call's after that.  Where is this 365 days a year?   When are the leaders going to get together?  We're afraid to admit our past mistakes."

Chris Wall, who is running for State Senate in District 3, was one of dozens of community leaders, elected officials and candidates, and concerned residents who turned out at the Providence NAACP-led rally on Monday at the Garrahy Judicial Complex. 

"This has been going on for years, it's the Hatfields and the McCoys," said Wall. "Even though crime and shooting statistics are down from what they once were, the perception is certainly that violence is up."

Call to Action

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NAACP-led rally at the Garrahy Judicial Complex on Monday

On Monday,  the NAACP Providence Branch along with community groups and leaders issued a "call to action" against violence in the city, where speakers touched upon the ongoing turf battles as part of the issue.

"History just repeated itself at Chad Brown and now we're here again. I don't know if you know what's going on, the rivalries taking place, the back and forth back across town and shooting each other," said James Monteiro, Executive Director of the Billy Taylor House. "Tomorrow, if something doesn't happen if we don't intervene, it's going to happen again. and we'll be right back here again."

"We need a hand up, not a hand out -- I'll be the last one who accepts a hand out," said Monteiro.  "I'm a father, I have two jobs, my wife works to pay the bills.  I pay taxes on the East Side -- my tax bracket is the Blackstone Boulevard tax bracket. There are supposed to be services in the community to help my child.  It takes a village to raise a child.  My daughter's not going to learn anything sitting in the house.  She needs environments that are safe to nurture her and help her grow.  We spend too much money on the back end of the situation, especially with the Google money."

Jim Vincent with the NAACP, as part of his call to action on Monday, recommended that Mayor Taveras convene a call to action with public and private leadership to develop short and long term plans to address the root causes of violence, and Governor Lincoln Chafee to direct targeted workforce development funds in neighborhoods of high unemployment, and request the Attorney General to dedicate 15% of the Google settlement funding to support youth development and ex-offender training and employment programming.

Vincent, speaking with GoLocal prior to the event, said, "This doesn't happen in vacuum -- people don't become a gang banger in a vacuum.  Anyone with a 9 to 5 job, or has an education, isn't a gang banger."

"The unemployment rate here is over 40% for youth of color ages 18 to 24," said Vincent, reiterating a statistic he has pointed to repeatedly.  "That's almost 1 in 2 of our young people not having a job.  You have folks that need opportunities, and and need hope -- and not so much for them, but for the younger ones, so that they see them and make the right decisions."

Vincent continued, "No business will come into the city where gang banging is going on.  This isn't a neighborhood problem.  When kids can't be trained, and are illiterate -- it affects all Rhode Islanders.  It's not someone else's problem.  People won't come here unless there's a trained, motivated work force."

Former Providence resident Bella Noka, who was at the rally, said that while she was no longer living in the city, she "couldn't sleep at night."

"I'm from Providence, I have all my family in Providence. And I'm fearful to let them walk outside on the streets right now.  I'm tired of us asking, recommending.  It's time to start doing.  Because people are speaking up," said Noka.  "I want back to the nitty gritty and in the trenches, getting things done.  We need people walking the walk."

Looking at Larger Picture

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Joseph P. Buchanan

"I've served with 3 mayors, where they have programs where they think they can help, but they're reactionary to where the violence has happened," said Jackson.  "It's not glamorous to do preventative programs -- no one has the crystal ball but resources need to be spread out to other groups, and not do things that are just reactionary."

Providence resident Joseph P. Buchanan said he believed that the issue of the "feuds" could ultimately be addressed.

"These drive-bys are infesting our community.  There's no such thing as snitching with people driving by, shooting people like this," said Buchanan.  "There's always been feuds, but it could be rectified if people sat down and talk.  I think we can get to the root of this."


Related Slideshow: Providence City Council: Who Will Be the Next President?

Several members of the current Providence City Council have declared their intentions to seek the Council Presidency, with Michael Solomon's departure. 

Below is the current city council. 

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Seth Yurdin

Councilman Seth Yurdin was first elected in 2006 to represent Ward One of Providence, and was re-elected in 2010.

Between 2011-2015, his committee appointments include:

  • Chairman of the Committee on Ordinances
  • Member, Committee on City Property
  • Member, Committee on Rules
  • Member, Subcommittee on Healthy Communities & Women
  • Chairman, Committee on Ward Boundaries
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Samuel D. Zurier

Councilman Sam Zurier was elected the Council person for Ward 2 in November 2010, and began his first term in 2011.

He serves on the following committees:

  • Committee on Finance
  • Committee on Ordinances
  • Chair, Special Committee on Education
  • Special Committee on Ways and Means
  • Special Committee on Women and Healthy Communities
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Kevin Jackson

Councilman Kevin E. Jackson joined the Providence City Council in 1995, and was re-elected in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010. Councilman Jackson, a Democrat, represents Ward 3, which includes the Hope and Mount Hope neighborhoods.

Chairman, Committee on City Property, 2007-2011
Member, Committee on Urban Redevelopment, Renewal, and Planning, 2007-2011
Chairman, Committee on Finance, 1999-2007


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Nicholas J. Narducci, Jr.

Councilman Nicholas J. Narducci, Jr. was first elected to the Council in 2006, and re-elected in 2010 to represent the North End of Providence.

His committee assignments include:

• Chairman, Committee on Urban Redevelopment, Renewal and Planning
• Chairman, Committee on Claims and Pending Suits
• Member, Committee on City Property
• Special Committee to Study and Make Amendments to PERA, 2007-2011

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Michael A. Solomon

Councilman Michael Solomon was first elected in 2006, and was re-elected in 2010 to represent the Elmhurst and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods.

Councilman Solomon was elected Council President for the 2011-2015 term. He is one of two council members of the Providence Water Supply Board.

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Michael J. Correia

Councilman Michael Correia began his term representing the people of Ward Six in January 2011 after being elected to the Providence City Council in November 2010.

As President of the Providence Crime Watch Association, he has organized residents to combat crime throughout the city. Since 2005, he has led the Annual National Night Out Against Crime, a rally against violence and crime, as it passed through his community. He also is a member of the Sixth Ward Working Committee, a neighborhood group that has worked closely with the Police Department to reduce graffiti, vandalism, and other forms of crime. He has supported the Stranger Danger Program for children and the SAFE Program, which teaches practical self-defense to the elderly.

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John J. Igliozzi

Councilman John J. Igliozz has served Ward 7 since 1997

He serves on the following committees:

  • Chairman of the Committee on Finance in 2007 and 2011
  • Chairman of the Committee on City Property
  • Member of the Committee on Public Works
  • Serves on the Board of Park Commissioners and the Providence Housing Authority
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Wilbur W. Jennings, Jr.

Councilman Wilbur Jennings was first elected the councilman for the eighth ward in November 2010, and began his term in January 2011. He worked for the City of Providence in varying capacities for 28 years, eventually attaining the position of Deputy Superintendent and Superintendent of several divisions of the Department of Public Works.

He also serves on the Providence Community Action Program’s (ProCAP) Board of Director.

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Carmen Castillo

Carmen Castillo was elected Councilwoman for Ward 9 in a special election in November 2011, and began her first term in January 2012. Currently, she is a union steward, and also a member of the Executive Board for UNITE HERE Local 217.

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Luis A. Aponte

Councilman Luis Aponte was first elected to the Providence City Council in 1998, representing the Tenth Ward neighborhoods of Lower South Providence and Washington Park. He was re-elected in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

In addition to having served as the Council Majority Leader (2003-2007), Councilman Aponte has served on various committees, including the Committee on Finance, the Special Commission on State Legislation, the City Council Rules Committee, and the Committee on Ward Boundaries, which proposed the new ward map to the City Council in February 2002. In addition, Councilman Aponte is one of two council representatives on the Providence Redevelopment Agency.

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Davian Sanchez

Councilman Sanchez is currently enrolled at Johnson & Wales University (JWU), and is pursuing a bachelor’s in Financial Service Management.

Councilman Sanchez has the distinction of being the youngest Dominican-American elected official in the United States, as well as the youngest member elected to the Providence City Council.

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Terrence M. Hassett

Councilman Terrence M. Hassett was first elected to the City Council to represent Ward 12 in Providence in 1997 in a special election. He was re-elected in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010. 

Hassett was elected Council President Pro Tempore for the 2011-2015 term, and currently serves on the following committees:

  • Chairman of Committee on Public Works
  • Member of Committee on Finance
  • Member of Committee on Ordinances
  • Member of Committee on Urban Renewal, Redevelopment & Planning
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Bryan Principe

Bryan Principe is a newly elected member of the City Council, his term commencing in January 2011.  Though new to elective office, he has been actively engaged in the community for years.   Bryan has participated in community cleanups, tree plantings and neighborhood festivals. 

He serves on the following committees:

  • City Plan Commission
  • West Broadway Neighborhood Association
  • Ward 13 Democratic committee
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David A. Salvatore

David A. Salvatore began his first term as the councilman for the fourteenth ward in January 2011. Since taking office, his primary focus has been financial and pension reform in the city. He was Chairman of the Subcommittee on Pension Sustainability, which issued a report and made recommendations—many of which were adopted—to stabilize the pension system and reduce the system’s unfunded liability.

David’s current committee assignments are:

  • Chairman, Special Committee on Ways and Means
  • Vice-Chairman, Committee on Ordinances
  • Member, Special Committee on Education
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Sabina Matos

Councilwoman Sabina Matos was elected or Ward 15 in November 2010, and began her first term in January 2011.

She has served on the following commitees and initiatives:

  • Board of Directors of the Olneyville Housing Corporation
  • Associate Director of New Roots Providence
  • Graduate of the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund’s Latina Leadership Institute and President since 2007
  • President of the Board of Directors of the Education Center for the Arts & Sciences Theater (Teatro ECAS)

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