Community leaders decry ‘racist and divisive’ flyer attacking NAACP president

President of the Providence branch of the NAACP Jim Vincent holds a news conference on flyers bearing his likeness (Photo: Dan McGowan/WPRI-TV)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza called a flyer attacking the president of the local NAACP “deeply disturbing” Monday, saying there is no place in the city for “disgusting bigotry.”

Elorza joined community leaders for a press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the flyer, which was shared widely on social media over the weekend.

“We will not dignify that flyer by mentioning specifically what it said,” Elorza said during the press conference. “But most of us know, because we’ve seen it or we’ve heard, that this kind of ideology, this kind of perspective, and this way of thinking, must be rooted root and branch from every aspect of our society.”

The front page of the flyer includes a picture of Jim Vincent, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP, under the words “negro crime in Mayor Jorge Elorza’s sanctuary city of Providence, R.I.” It also lists numerous unproven allegations against Vincent.

“It is unacceptable to target anybody in our community,” Vincent said during the press conference. “If you target one, you target all. And we will not tolerate, we stand united.”

Vincent said he and Elorza initially discussed saying nothing publicly about the flyer, when they had only seen the front page. But they later saw the inside, which contains photos and names of four African-Americans, highlighting recent incidents in the city. It includes the Central High School altercation between a teenage student and an assistant principal at the school, naming the underage teen and showing his photo. It also shows a photo of his mother, and makes accusations against them both.

“When we looked at the inside, when they were targeting four other people including a minor, we felt that maybe it was too serious to wish that it would go away on its own,” Vincent said, explaining the reasoning for the press conference.

“The message was getting around, and it’s really important to let folks know that we’re not going to allow hate to become normalized,” Elorza added.

Eyewitness News has reviewed photos of at least two copies of the flyer, but there were no physical copies of it at the press conference. It’s unclear how many of the flyers were distributed, but Vincent said he believes they were located on the East Side of Providence and near McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.

Vincent said he doesn’t know who published the flyer, but noted that he has several high-profile media appearances in recent weeks. In a Providence Journal report on President Donald Trump’s first year in office, Vincent said the “only thing beneficial is that he has brought white supremacy out in the open so we can see how little racial progress we have actually made and how much more work we have yet to do with a relatively large segment of the American people.”

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said police are investigating the situation, but do not consider the flyer criminal in nature.

 

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Dan McGowan (dmcgowan@wpri.com) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan