By JOHN HOWELL Police chiefs and faith leaders from across the state will gather Saturday afternoon at the Hendricken High School football field for Unity 2020, an event aimed at demonstrating police support and enabling people to speak one-on-one with
Police chiefs and faith leaders from across the state will gather Saturday afternoon at the Hendricken High School football field for Unity 2020, an event aimed at demonstrating police support and enabling people to speak one-on-one with faith and police leaders.
Father Robert Marciano, pastor of St. Kevin Church and Hendricken High School president, said Wednesday the event starting at 3 p.m. is open to anyone who wants to listen and engage in discussion. He said protocols for distancing and wearing of masks will be followed and those attending will be given temperature checks.
Fr. Marciano said the free Warwick event is part of the national Faith & Blue effort, and when the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association inquired whether he would participate he went a step further.
“I said I would love to host it.”
He said one of his first calls was to Col. Rick Rathbun, Warwick Police Chief, who pledged his support in being the host city.
He said while he sees no issues with police in Warwick and many other Rhode Island municipalities, “we want to be proactive.”
Fr. Marciano said police chiefs and members of the faith community would sit in chairs facing the football stands where those attending would sit. Following his greeting, Fr. Marciano said there would be prayers followed by remarks. There would also be tents on the football field where people could talk privately in “break out sessions” with police chiefs and members of the clergy.
He said the format is being taken from a 30-page workbook developed for similar events across the country demonstrating “Faith & Blue.”
The nationwide “Faith & Blue” initiative, developed by MovementForward and sponsored by the Department of Justice, is designed to foster an open and honest dialogue between local law enforcement and the communities they serve, especially those who feel disconnected and discriminated against.
“Bishop Hendricken is honored to partner with the members of our many faith communities and their leaders as well as our dedicated law enforcement officials to begin this yearlong, and hopefully lifelong, dialogue to foster peace, understanding, and justice with all whom we serve,” Fr. Marciano said in a press release. “These trying times are no match for our good intentions and our working together on behalf of others.”
Unity 2020 is spearheaded by the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association and the Warwick Police Department. Dialogue will include the following faith and law enforcement leaders: Fr. Robert Marciano, (Catholic community); Ms. Wendy Joering, (Jewish community), Director of Community Relations for the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island; Imam Farid Ansari, (Muslim community), Muslim American Dawah Center of Rhode Island; Fr. Marcos Girgis, (Coptic Christian community), Pastor of St. Mary & St. Mena; William Ferland, Chief of the Criminal Division, United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island; Chief Brian Sullivan, President of RIPCA & Chief of Lincoln Police Department; Colonel Rick Rathbun, Chief of Warwick Police Department; and Rev. Hance Philippe, (Transformation Worship Center), Chaplain of the Lincoln Police Department.
The event is completely free and open to all. All attendees must adhere to Hendricken campus COVID-19 health and safety policies, including sign-in, contactless temperature screening, mask-wearing at all times, and physical distancing.