PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – On a rainy Saturday afternoon, dozens of Rhode Islanders gathered in Providence classrooms, sitting behind desks usually reserved for the students of Hope High School. Instead of teachers, there were community leaders standing at chalkboards, imparting knowledge on fellow activists who see President Donald Trump’s agenda and policies as divisive and oppressive. The gathering was organized by a group that calls itself Resist Hate RI, and their primary goal is to push back against the new administration.
“Coming here gives me a place where I can find action and I can find like-minded people and I can turn that desperation into action and help to do things,” said Susan Gunter, who on Saturday was attending her second Resist Hate RI community meeting. “It’s a shot in the arm, and sometimes I need that to get through the week.”
Marches and rallies protesting the new president have been a near-weekly occurrence in Rhode Island since the election, and now a group of Trump supporters are planning their own march. The “Make America Great Again” march is scheduled to take place nationwide on March 25, and a local demonstration is set to happen the same day at the Rhode Island State House.
Meanwhile, those at the Resist Hate RI meeting Saturday learned about upcoming marches and rallies to protest Trump. Gunter and the dozens of other Rhode Islanders in attendance also sat in on workshops on topics ranging from cultural sensitivity and diversity, to clean energy and healthcare.
“Lots and lots more people are knowing what its like to stand up, get together, and remember that a democracy is about civil participation,” said Miriam Weizenbaum, who has attended all four of the Resist Hate RI events.
State Rep. Aaron Regunberg, D-Providence, is one of the organizers of Resist Hate RI, which formed after the presidential election.
“There’s a lot of desire to get involved, take action tor resist the parts of Trump’s agenda that people found scary and against our values as Rhode Islanders,” he said, adding that the gatherings will continue as long as there is interest from the community.
Regunberg estimated 1,000 people attended Saturday’s event, and attendees like Gunter believe new people attend each time.
“I think it’s really important to everyone to see the energy being generated through these meeting and also by the individuals,” she said.