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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Tiny Providence rally dishes out big dose of lies, racism and Trumpism

Rally to Reopen RI draws few protesters
By Steve Ahlquist in UpRiseRI

According to host John DePetro (⇐photo, left), the Reopen Rhode Island Rally held on Monday afternoon outside the State House was organized by Mark Smiley, former chair of the Rhode Island Republican Party, and Mark Zaccaria, a frequent Republican candidate for office.

In all the event lasted a little over an hour. The rally was held to call on Governor Gina Raimondo to end her COVID-19 executive orders and reopen the state completely. 

Most of those who addressed the crowd of about 60 people had run for office as Republicans in the last decade or so.

Most of the speakers kept to the concerns of small businesses who are feeling the effects of the shut down, or to the issue of churches not being allowed to hold services. 

But DePetro, a Woonsocket based radio host with a small conservative following, pushed the rally into racism when he said, “A big part of the spread is illegal aliens. They’re giving the illegal aliens 500 a month. Let me hear you if you agree with me. I say, no money for the illegals! This is a perfect time to start the deportations! 

This is not a Sanctuary City, this belongs to the people!”

EDITOR'S NOTE: DePetro is wrong on all counts. "Illegal" immigrants did not cause COVID-19 to spread. In fact, just about all of the eastern US's coronavirus cases trace back to travellers arriving from Europe. Undocumented immigrants are categorically ineligible for government help - including unemployment insurance, food stamps, Medicaid and Medicare. No stimulus checks, no COVID loans. Nada. An estimated 26,000 Rhode Island immigrants do not have health insurance. - Will Collette

DePetro also seemed to diminish the lives of the elderly, saying that, “the median age [of people who die from COVID-19] in Rhode Island is 82! They have destroyed our economy because people 100 years old are dying in nursing homes. The nursing homes is on the state, not on you!”

EDITOR'S NOTE: It is true elderly people, especially those with underlying health conditions, are at the greatest risk of dying - 81% of Rhode Island's coronavirus dead are 70 and older. But is DePetro - big-deal right-to-lifer that he is - believes their lives are worth less? What does he mean by "the nursing homes is [SIC] on the state, not on you"? Nursing home residents have kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews, people who care about them. - W. Collette
DePetro played to his usual tropes - religion, patriotism and Trump.

“How many people here would like to see the churches reopen?” asked DePetro rhetorically. “How many people still believe in the United States of America and freedom? 

"How many people support President Trump and his efforts? How many people feel Governor Raimondo has gone too far? Reopen the state! Bring back your liberty!

“100 people at a Walmart yet 10 at a funeral and church is still closed. We need to reopen those churches!”

In all, maybe 60 people stood in the rain to attend the rally. About two dozen cars continuously circled the State House, honking horns, waving flags and sporting Trump 2020 and “Knock it Off Gina” signs.

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading.

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