The State Police disparate treatment of anti-mandate protesters; out-of-uniform officer prompts conflict.
From the very beginning of John DePetro’s coverage of last night’s protest at Democrat Governor Dan McKee’s house, it was clear the treatment of healthcare professionals who are protesting the governor’s vaccination mandate was going to be very different from what we’ve witnessed for Black Lives Matter and other progressive groups.
Remember when Black Lives Matter blocked a busy intersection on Federal Hill in the early evening? (See John’s video around minute 40, here.) No police broke that up; it was only when they went for repeat performances that the police put their foot down. Remember when they went to Governor Gina Raimondo’s house? (See John’s video interviewing neighborhood kids, here.) The protesters drove loud circles around the block then got out of their cars and set off firecrackers for around 30 minutes before any police showed up. Remember during the initial BLM protests, when police in uniform were making supportive speeches and even marching with them?
That wasn’t the experience of the healthcare workers last night.
When they showed up, they were told they couldn’t park on any nearby public streets. They had to park far away and walk 30 minutes or so — including small children and people in wheel chairs. When they neared the governor’s house, police initially told them they couldn’t go down the street but ultimately allowed them.
When they reached the governor’s house, the State Police had their zip-tie handcuffs on clear display, and they got to use them during a vigil for a man who had died after being vaccinated.
From John’s video, it isn’t entirely clear what happened to lead to the arrest of two men on charges of disorderly conduct, obstruction, and resisting arrest, but it looks something like this:
- Around the 50:50 mark, the crowd is trying to figure out how to continue their protest by keeping moving, as instructed by the police. Somebody says something, which incensed an officer who looked like he was in charge.
- He advances into the group at around 51 minutes, looking like he intends to detain somebody and confusion and shouting begins.
- At 51:03, you can see Tyler Bonin, one of the arrested men approaching the turmoil from the left.
- At 51:17, he points toward somebody and turns on his phone’s flashlight to point it at him.
- John gets the person he pointed at center frame at 51:22.
- At 51:26, that man, not in any uniform, approaches and edges him backwards as a uniformed police officer stands more or less between them. You can hear Bonin ask, “who are you?”
- The non-uniformed man begins to push him more forcefully toward the nearest police car. Freezing the frame during this time, with other officers now moving around him, it looks like Bonin is trying to explain something to them, as the non-uniformed man pushes him.
- Around 51:40, two uniformed officers whip another man, presumably Joshua Joseph, out of the melee. He may have been trying to help Bonin.
- At 52 minutes, John approaches Bonin, now pressed up against the hood of a car, and he calmly gives his name and says he pushed the man off him because he didn’t know who he was. “He did not identify himself.”
Reviewing the video, I didn’t see the non-uniformed man with the officers at any point before the conflict. He may have been laying low within the crowd (sort of undercover), which may have produced some misunderstanding and a tense moment. It looks like Bonin caught some of that and sought to intervene, at which point the police continually escalated with no apparent reason.
As John says repeatedly throughout the remainder of the video, this is not at all how he witnessed progressive activists being treated all of last year. As well as one can tell from the video, it looks like the police instigated the confrontation.