Gov. Gina Raimondo joined Black Lives Matter Rhode Island’s Gary Dantzler to discuss racial injustice across the state at an event on Friday morning.
Raimondo praised last weekend's peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd while denouncing the violence that occurred on Monday night in Providence.
"It was a very, very difficult, painful night for the city," she said of Monday's riots, which damaged numerous businesses and resulted in nearly 70 arrests.
She added that "action and unity" are the answer to stamping out racial injustice and racism, "not boarded up windows and looting."
"It's been a long week," Raimondo said. "We're all coming here Friday morning with a mix of feelings, a mix of emotions, a combination of exhaustion, fatigue, anger and frustration, and for some folks a numbness or sense of hopelessness. But I want to remind us that last weekend, just outside, thousands of peaceful protesters demanded change to a system that for too long has been broken, institutions that for too long have been racist and discriminatory."
She thanked Black Lives Matter RI for organizing last weekend's protest.
"Thousands and thousands of Rhode Islanders from every walk of life came here to peacefully protest, demanding change. I was proud of you guys and proud to be a Rhode Islander. It felt that change was in the air."
Additional protests are scheduled for Friday afternoon and Saturday in Rhode Island, and Raimondo said she hopes that instead of focusing on the violence, the attention returns to the need for change.
During her afternoon coronavirus news conference, when asked if she would attend Friday's demonstration in Providence, Raimondo said no but that many of her staff members would attend and she fully supported the protest.
Also during her afternoon news conference, the governor extended Rhode Island's executive order on wearing face coverings in public until July 4. Raimondo said to use common sense about the rule.
"Just like your phone, don't leave your house without your mask," Raimondo said.
The governor also extended the emergency declaration until July 5 which she says ensures Rhode Island has access to federal resources and the flexibility to quickly "meet the needs of the crisis."
Also extended to July 5 is the quarantining of people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have had close contact with those diagnosed.
A telemedicine order which requires insurers to reimburse doctors for phone call and video conference appointments has also been extended to July 5, Raimondo said.
"This has been critical to break down barriers to access," she said.
The state on Friday reported 16 new deaths related to COVID-19. The total number of deaths now stands at 772. Health officials reported 113 new positive COVID-19 cases for a total of 15,441.
Rhode Island is now in Phase 2 of its reopening process. Social gatherings are limited to 15 people, all state parks and beaches are allowed to open with capacity limitations and social distancing restrictions, restaurants are permitted to open indoor dining at up to 50% capacity, gyms, fitness studios and small group fitness classes are permitted to reopen with restrictions and more.
To see an overview of Phase 2 visit https://www.reopeningri.com.