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ACLU Blasts Discriminatory Enforcement of Providence’s Emergency Curfew

Posted: June 04, 2020|Category: Discrimination Fair Administration of Justice Free Speech Police Practices

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The ACLU of Rhode Island today blasted the City of Providence’s continuing implementation of a weeklong State of Emergency and nighttime curfew for city residents and called for its immediate repeal after learning that city licensing officials advised local restaurants and other licensees that they remain free to stay open after 9 PM.

In a letter to Mayor Jorge Elorza, ACLU of Rhode Island executive director Steven Brown said that “despite your order’s claim that this draconian curfew was necessary to protect the city’s residents from ‘severe endangerment and harm to their health, safety and property,’ the danger apparently is not severe enough to interfere with the right of residents and non-residents alike to venture out and enjoy a night of coq au vin with their friends at any of Providence’s admittedly fine dining establishments.” Brown called it “impossible to reconcile this decision with either the premise of your emergency order or the terms of the order itself limiting the people who can be out at night.”

The letter called “most disconcerting” the “discriminatory underpinnings of this informal addendum to your State of Emergency Declaration.  We don’t begrudge local restaurants wishing to stay open after suffering through a two-month shutdown. But it is deeply offensive to consider that those less financially fortunate residents of the city who do not have the wherewithal to enjoy the City’s food scene are barred from walking a few blocks to visit their relatives or friends and knock down a beer late at night.”

The ACLU’s letter concluded by saying that “yesterday’s License Department notification makes abundantly clear that the so-called weeklong emergency described in your June 2 Declaration is no emergency at all. We call on you to immediately repeal this extreme infringement on residents’ rights and not provide a special exception for those who have the means and the money to enjoy the city’s nightlife.”

A copy of the ACLU’s letter can be found here.

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