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Right-wing anti-trans rally in Providence fizzles
The counter-protest had over ten times as many participants...
Less than ten people showed up for the Protect the Children Rally outside the Rhode Island State House on Saturday. The event was scheduled to last four hours and ended after three, with nothing much happening for much of that time. None of the advertised speakers or performers spoke or performed.
The rally, said organizer Alexandra Lepore, was not being organized against transgender children but in support of all children. That said, advertising for the event, and the social media accounts of those scheduled to speak at the rally, were alarming in their use of conspiratorial right-wing talking points, and anti-trans dog whistles.
Posters for the event averred that “together we can bring an end” to drag and trans story times, indoctrinating our children, grooming children, human trafficking, kidnapping, and critical race theory.
Far outnumbering the rallygoers were the counter-protesters - more than 80 showed up in support of trans children and trans rights. Most of the counterprotesters wore black and sported white bandanas. They were encouraged to not engage with those attending the Protect the Children Rally and positioned themselves along the sidewalk so the rally could proceed without interference.
The Womxn Project released the following statement after the protest:
“In the face of an alt-right group gathering momentum in the state, a coalition of non-profits and individuals today stood in the name of love for children.
“While Moms of Liberty hosted its anti-trans rally on the State House lawn, our group was physically removed, silently and non-confrontationally standing on the edge of the lawn, so that passersby saw our supportive presence before hearing any hate speech coming from their PA.
“As the next legislative session approaches and we build our movement, we want Rhode Islanders to see that there is a huge number of supportive people and organizations protecting the bodily autonomy of marginalized communities, particularly that of the most vulnerable. And although we stood in silent presence today, we won’t stay silent for long.”
Among those scheduled to speak was Amy T. Rodrigues, the Washington County Chair of the recently formed Moms for Liberty Rhode Island Chapter. Moms for Liberty has been labeled an "extremist group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC]. The group, says SPLC, "is a far-right organization that engages in anti-student inclusion activities and self-identifies as part of the modern parental rights movement. The group grew out of opposition to public health regulations for COVID-19, opposes LGBTQ+ and racially inclusive school curriculum, and has advocated book bans."
"Freedom Strategist" Ron Bouchard, "RI Lead Medical Freedom Activist" Aimee Gardiner, and singer/songwriter Marcus Casavanti were also scheduled to speak, but in the face of such a tiny number of supporters and such a huge number of counter-protesters, the speaking program never happened, save for a few words from Lepore shortly after noon.
When the speaking program fizzled, Lepore and one of her supporters, Gail (sporting a bright pink "Women for Trump" sweatshirt), walked up and down the sidewalk proselytizing their message to the counter-protesters one-on-one. Lepore held a sign that read, "Time to put our differences aside and unite." Most of the counter-protesters did not engage.
After the rally, Lepore took to Facebook to admonish the scheduled speakers who declined to speak:
“It was too bad that you felt threatened by the opposition. It was my goal to unite everybody for our children. It pains me to see fear take over the event. Good try Patriots. I'd like to extend a lot of gratitude to Gail who stayed with me and Don to the end.
“It takes a lot of courage to be so few among so many angry individuals and still bring the message of unity.”
A separate group of protesters brought loud music to the event, a cacophony meant to express their disagreement with the goals of the rally.