East Providence will not hire dancing cop in wake of controversy

FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2012 photo, former Providence Police Department office Tony Lepore directs traffic at an intersection on Dorrance Street in Providence, R.I. Lepore said he was told by police officials Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, not to return to the city streets to direct traffic during the 2015 Christmas season, after organizing a protest over the appearance of a “blacklivesmatter” hashtag on a police officer’s coffee cup at a Rhode Island Dunkin’ Donuts. Lepore, a retired Providence police officer, became known nationally for injecting dance moves into his police work in 1984 while directing Providence traffic. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Tony Lepore, known by many as “the dancing cop,” will not be taking the streets of East Providence this holiday season.

Lepore said he was contacted by the city after the Providence Police Department cut ties with him. That decision came after Lepore led a protest and boycott against a local Dunkin’ Donuts, where a police officer was given a coffee cup with “Black Lives Matter” written on it.

Lepore was expected to be directing traffic for the city’s Christmas tree lighting at the Crescent Park Carousel on Sunday, but he didn’t show since his hiring was to be voted on by the City Council Tuesday night. East Providence Mayor Tommy Rose now says the matter has been pulled from the agenda.

“I didn’t choose East Providence, they chose me,” said Lepore.

The city councilor who initiated bringing in Lepore said Monday night she is no longer in favor of hiring him.

Rose said he didn’t realize how intense the controversy was until protesters showed up at the Christmas tree lighting.

“Once we realized what type of controversy that it was causing, we turned around and decided to take it off the docket and move on to other things,” said Rose. “This is a time of happiness, a time of cheer, we don’t want any issues.”

Lepore said he’s willing to show off his moves to whoever else comes calling.

“Anyone in Rhode Island that wants me to come into their town, just give me a call,” Lepore added.

Mayor Rose said the city is working to find other ways to make the holiday season extra special.

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