What I noticed was how effective the local police were at preventing antagonistic sides from getting out of control: they formed a line and kept the groups apart. Fundamental cop stuff, right?
That was exactly the element missing in the March 4 Berkeley event where gangs of masked anarchists were allowed to assault the pro-Trump crowd, many of whom were older, even elderly. The Berkeley Police stood around as violence intensified without utilizing the strategy of basic crowd control. Clearly the city leaders made it clear that pro-Trump citizens were not welcome in their precious People’s Republic. See my blog for details: Berkeley Police Watch as Masked Anarchists Pursue Violence, Finally Arrest 10.
Because the peace was maintained in Providence, some people managed to have respectful disagreements. This is how political discourse is supposed to work, and law enforcement is a part of the picture.
A line of police officers divide Trump backers and foes at State House, March 25, 2017
Supporters and opponents of President Donald Trump got into shouting matches in front of City Hall Saturday morning as a march to the State House in support of the president got underway.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Providence police and state troopers formed a line between Trump supporters and foes at the State House terrace to prevent violence.
There were about 1,000 demonstrators at the State House, according to estimates made by Providence Journal reporters and the Providence police.
The rally ended at about 12:45 p.m., when the Providence police and state troopers ordered demonstrators to leave the area of the State House. The pro-Trump forces mostly dissipated, while the anti-Trumpers marched back toward City Hall, intending to head to a “RISE UP! Rhode Island” rally at the Roger Williams Memorial National Park on North Main Street, where organizers said they will urge people to “raise their voices against the current administration’s policies of hate and bigotry and stand in solidarity for equal rights for everyone.”
The two sides marched up Francis Street from Providence City Hall together. Trump’s supporters led. The opponents followed.
They were noisy: the President’s supporters chanting “USA, USA;” the opponents shouting expletives associated with Trump’s name.
But there was no trouble until the two factions reached the State House when there was some pushing and shoving.
That ended when the police formed their standing barrier between the two sides.
“I think it was a good representation of the American system of government,” Providence police Commander Thomas A. Verdi told The Providence Journal. “Two groups equal in size … each voicing their opinions and positions, and both very passionate, but able to do so in a very peaceful way.”
Around the edges of the crowd, something like respectful conversations broke out between a few on either side.
In his Make America Great Again hat, John Carnevale, of Johnston, talked with Linda Strate, of North Kingstown, as she held a #Resist Hate sign.
She was there because of health care. He was there to “affirm that Trump is our president.”
Oh, Strate said, “He may not be if he screwed around with Russia!”
“People throw around allegations, but you’re innocent until proven guilty in this country,” Carnevale argued.
That’s true, she said.
They kept talking, disagreeing, but respectful to each other. “Why not?” Strate said. “I’m a nice person, and I think he is too. We’re good people, we just disagree.”
The day began quietly with police and state troopers outnumbering demonstrators at the State House at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
On tables in front of the State House, Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” baseball caps were for sale for $20 in Burnside Park.
At the State House, the Trump supporters made speeches while the disrupt crowd disrupted by chanting and beating on plastic utility buckets.
The march is one of several pro-Trump and Anti-Trump rallies in downtown Providence Saturday.
WADK radio talk show host John DePetro, declared “We are gathered here today to send a message to the White House and President Trump: the people of Rhode Island are with you. Help us get rid of the selfish, corrupt, incompetent politicians who hold our state hostage.”
He went on his his prepared remarks to declare: “Here in Rhode Island , we have seen jobs leave and factories close. Empty buildings, panhandlers, dangerous drug dealers and illegal aliens cause chaos in our communities. The biggest building is the empty Superman building, and the only crane in the sky is the one lifting the 800 pound man.
“We Trump supporters are here as one, to become a force to change the state,” DePetro wrote.
The demonstrators started heading home around 12:15.