NEW: RI State Police, Providence Police to Hold Community Forum Monday on Ferguson
Monday, November 17, 2014
"It's us and the Providence Police meeting with community leaders and community partners to have a candid discussion -- not to talk about what happen there, we can't handle what happened there -- but we can here," said State Police Superintendent Colonel Steven O'Donnell.
The incident prompting the Ferguson, Missouri protests and riots occurred August 9 when an unarmed black teen named Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson. Wilson is now awaiting a decision from the grand jury, which could happen as early as this week.
"My decision to do this was to be proactive," said O'Donnell, who noted that he talked regularly with state police colonels around the country.
"We talk about the national situation, and we had a conversation about this. So I decided to partner with Clements, and other law agencies, so that whatever happens, we abide by the laws," said O'Donnell Monday morning.
NAACP's Vincent "Encouraged"
Jim Vincent witht the Providence NAACP Branch said he is "encouraged" by the forum announcement.
"I haven't talked with O'Donnell yet, but I'm really pleased that he's acting proactively," said Vincent. "I don't have any preconceived notions about what he'll be doing tonight, but I'll be there.
"I think it's good that we talk about this as a community. I'm hoping that there's no violence, nobody getting hurt. I'm not Pollyanna-ish, and I know how society works," said Vincent. "I know that this community doesn't want anything but an indictment, and I think the decision could be this week."
Vincent said that he was uncertain as to what to expect.
"You never know. People are really angry with police relations around the country, there's heightened awareness to that," said Vincent. "Here in Rhode Island, I think it's two stories -- the leadership, Clements and Pare, they get it. You have to keep contact with the community, this move signals O'Donnell gets it...we're fortunate we have people who understand these are sensitive issues and sensitive times."
Vincent continued, "There are rank and file out there however doing racial profiling. That has been underscored by various studies, and it is still happening. People are still hurting their own department, by doing so they erode the confidence of the whole department. So I'm not going to say that that's not happening. The leadership is doing their part, but it's not always making its way down."