Saturday, October 20, 2018
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza procliaims registered person has "given up his right" to be in his community
There are plenty of Shiitake-worthy people in this article, but I'll settle on Mayor Jorge Elorza, mayor of Providence RI, for the comments suggesting he gets to decide who lives in Providence and who does not.
Providence neighbors protest outside child rapist home
Journal Staff Writer
Posted Oct 17, 2018 at 9:24 PM
Updated at 7:53 AM
Residents of the Washington Park neighborhood met Wednesday night to discuss the arrival of a new neighbor — a convicted child rapist recently released from prison in Massachusetts.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Washington Park Neighborhood Association meeting Wednesday night attracted hundreds of residents and ended with dozens of them protesting outside the home of a registered sex offender convicted of sexually assaulting children.
Outraged residents chanted, “We want him out!” and “Que se vaya!” and shone flashlights into the windows of 207 New York Ave., where the offender, Richard Gardner, moved in with his fiancée last week.
“We don’t feel safe in the neighborhood,” said Erlina Pichardo, speaking in Spanish. She lives in a house across the street from Gardner and has a 13-year-old son. “I’m scared.”
Gardner was convicted in 1989 of kidnapping and sexually assaulting three boys between the ages of 6 and 10 in the Warwick area. He was released last Thursday from a Massachusetts facility where he was serving time for a probation violation, and notified the Providence Police Department later that day that he was moving to New York Avenue.
Because Gardner was convicted before the passage of Megan’s Law, a 1996 law that requires sex offenders to register publicly and the community to be notified when they move into a neighborhood, he does not appear on the state’s list of sex offenders.
He is required to register with the police every time he moves, but that information is not made public, said Providence Officer Timothy Rudd, who manages the city’s sex offenders.
Ward 10 City Councilman Luis Aponte, though, said he found out that Gardner had moved into the neighborhood when he got an “unofficial heads up” from someone in the Police Department.
News spread fast, and the topic was added to the agenda of the Washington Park Neighborhood Association’s Wednesday meeting.
“It’s scary,” said Jennifer Ramirez, 29, who attended the meeting. “I have an 8-year-old son that’s always outside.”
Hundreds of people crowded into the Washington Park Community Center for the standing-room only meeting that often devolved into shouting and chaos.
Residents yelled when Rudd told them that Gardner declined to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, which he is not required by law to wear. “What about our rights!?” “This is bull----!”
Police told residents that Gardner, who is currently on probation, is not allowed to go within 300 feet of a school and that officers would check on his residence frequently and increase their patrols in the neighborhood. Beyond that, they said, there wasn’t much they could do.
“We’re going to be as vigilant as we possibly can be,” Rudd said.
But that didn’t satisfy residents.
“We don’t want him here!” they shouted.
Aponte tried to keep the peace.
"The Police Department did not put this guy here,” he said. “Us yelling at them is not going to change the circumstances.”
Mayor Jorge Elorza said he approved overtime for a police detail to monitor Gardner around the clock and make sure he doesn’t re-offend. Providence police Maj. David Lapatin said two officers will be stationed outside Gardner’s house, and will follow him each time he leaves, 24 hours a day, indefinitely.
“When I read about what this guy, what this predator, has done — it is absolutely heinous,” Elorza said. “He has given up his right to be here in the community.
“He does not belong in our city. He does not belong in our community,” he said. “I want every parent to know that we will not stop until this is absolutely addressed. I’ll say it one more time: He has no place in our community. Period.”
State lawmakers in attendance also pledged to introduce a bill, when the legislative session starts, to place more restrictions on where sex offenders can go, and to rewrite the law governing community notification.
But residents said they didn’t want to wait for laws to change, and were eager to take matters into their own hands.
Lisa Scorpio, a community activist, said she planned to get a group together to return to Gardner’s home every night to protest and implore him to leave.
“Cold, rain, whatever,” she said. “Six o’clock. Every night.”
(Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Gardner is on parole. He’s on probation.)