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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Class War in Charlestown, Part Two: the Jihad against the Narragansetts

Today's headline in the Providence Journal "Tribe eyes possibility of buying Twin River" ought to be seen as an opportunity to end the many long years of bitter conflict between the Narragansetts and the white residents of Charlestown.

If the conflict is truly about opposition to a casino in Charlestown, and not general hostility toward the tribe, we should not only celebrate but support the tribe's interest in buying the failing Twin River slot parlor and turning it into a competitive casino.

If Twin River doesn't find a buyer soon, it will close and there will be no revenue for the state. But if the Narragansetts and a backer TBA (Harrah's maybe, or Bally) buys Twin River, it might not only survive but prosper. It would address the tribe's long quest for economic security AND the insecurity of the rest of Charlestown's residents that the tribe would build a casino here..

But how likely is it that Charlestown will stop treating the tribe as an enemy? Not too likely, unless we rein in our town special counsel, that renowned Injun fighter, East Providence's Joe Larisa. The idea is barely past the rumor stage, and there is Wild Joe Larisa, firing his six-guns at the idea that the tribe might finally get something it desperately wants.

Was Larisa instructed to do that by the town or is he free-lancing? If he is indeed speaking for Charlestown, is he speaking for all of us, or just the CCA and Statewide Coalition crowd?

We don't know the details of the deal since Chief Sachem Thomas has not yet had his meeting with Governor Chafee. That's supposed to happen tomorrow (unless Larisa continues to try to poison the deal). But it is about time that the tribe had a chance at self-determination.

Author: Will Collette