PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) — Protesters are planning to gather near the newly-erected statue of one of Rhode Island’s earliest English settlers on Monday to demand that it be taken down.
Members of the Narragansett Indian tribe, Native Green, NCAAP Providence and Black Lives Matter Rhode Island, are expected to gather at the Rev. William Blackstone statue in Pawtucket on Indigenous Peoples Day.
“A big Band-Aid has been taken off of many things in this country and exposed things that were so ugly, so now is the time for healing,” Bella Noka, a Narragansett elder told WPRI-TV. “But you don’t try to put that dirty, nasty Band-Aid back on the wound that’s healing, and that’s what they did with this statue.”
Blackstone — after whom the Blackstone Valley region is named — settled the area in the 1630s at a time when the Indigenous population was brutally oppressed.
The 14-foot statue was put up in August by the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council Inc. on a private plot of land. The council said it is trying to spur conversation and understanding.