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There’s Been yet another racist incident. Time to Make Barrington a Sea of “Black Lives Matter” Signs.

Jan. 25, 2020

Dear fellow residents of Barrington, Rhode Island:

Last week, a Black neighbor of ours got hate mail, telling her to remove her Black Lives Matter flag, which was described as “anti-American paraphernalia.” This made me furious, and I hope you feel the same.

It reminded me of a 2016 news story where a lesbian couple in Natick, Mass. had their rainbow flag stolen and neighbors responded by flying rainbow flags on their homes in support.

We can do the same here by having a Black Lives Matter sign or flag in front of every home in Barrington where people recognize the unacceptable reality that Black people are still often treated as if they do not belong and as if their lives don’t matter.

This is not a political statement. It’s a moral one, a neighborly one, and a patriotic one, in support of the American ideal of liberty and justice for all. I am using my website; I hope you use your social media and tap your friendship circles to spread the word.

UPDATE: 170 yard signs are being distributed, about one for every 40 households. WE CAN DO EVEN BETTER! We can show the state and the nation where the majority of Barrington stands!

We also need to let our Town Council know, right away, that we support their decision to fly the Black Lives Matter flag and, during Pride month, the rainbow flag, under the American and POW flags at town hall. Emails should be sent before their meeting next Monday, Feb. 1, and ideally by this Friday, January 29. See details below.

GET a Black Lives Matter yard sign or flag

Take a stand

My husband and I fly the rainbow flag, but I’m not a yard sign person. That changes today. Our Black neighbors need to know that the white majority in town is with them. A friend’s kid, who is Black and lives in Barrington, says seeing those signs in town make him feel safer. Another friend’s kid was visiting us last summer from Brooklyn and got profiled twice and harassed by someone thinking he was improperly heading toward the residents-only beach.

With everything that’s been going on nationally, and with white supremacist graffiti and racial harassment going on in Barrington making national news, it’s time to make a stand. Will you join me?

Order a sign

I have contracted with a local Black-owned printing business, Hall of GraFX, owned by Gary Wallace, to produce Black Lives Matter yard signs. He is offering a special price of $9.75 including stake for an 18×24 sign. Thanks to generous neighbors, there are free signs currently available at The Book Nerd at 70 Maple Ave., ample parking in the back. After that they’ll be available for sale for $10. Get one for yourself, order in bulk for your church, neighborhood, or other community group, either through The Book Nerd or directly through the printer. Let’s do this! #BarringtonForBlackLives

You can contact Gary directly at gary [at] hallofgrafx.com or 401-444-0844 (and please think of him for all your printing needs!). If you want a flag, or to order another way, New York Magazine has a good article about where to get BLM flags and signs where your purchase supports Black-owned businesses or where money goes to a racial justice cause.

Let Town Council Know you support equity

Barrington now flies the rainbow flag during Pride month and the Black Lives Matter flag since late August 2020, recognizing that the marginalization and unequal treatment of LGBTQ and Black citizens is happening currently, is wrong, and that support for equity must be boldly displayed until equity is the norm. I’m so proud of the Town Council’s stand. Are you? If so, let them know now!

WRITE AN EMAIL TODAY The flag policy will be discussed at the town council meeting this coming Monday, February 1, at 6:30 pm. As of January 24, according to Council Member Jacob Brier, Town Council had received only one letter in support of keeping the BLM flag and 40 letters demanding the BLM flag come down and that the town institute a policy that prohibits any other “unofficial” flag from being raised. Brier has proposed a formal flag policy that allows Town Council to decide case-by-case on flags (as it has been doing). Opponents of the BLM and rainbow flags want to prevent that. To express your support for the BLM and rainbow flags, use the form on their page, check out this website which has a pre-addressed and pre-written letter that you can send as is or adapt, or copy and paste this email list, which includes the town manager and executive assistant:

mcarroll@barrington.ri.gov, jbrier@barrington.ri.gov, ckustell@barrington.ri.gov, aconway@barrington.ri.gov, rhumm@barrington.ri.gov, jcunha@barrington.ri.gov, mdesisto@barrington.ri.gov, jbellm@barrington.ri.gov

ATTEND THE TOWN COUNCIL MEETING If you have this coming Monday night, Feb. 1, free, attend the Zoom Town Council meeting and speak out in favor of the BLM and rainbow flags, and Council Member Briar’s proposal. Click here for the Zoom Link. The meeting start time is 7 pm. “Discuss and Act” on the flag policy is #19 on the agenda, which can be found here, under “upcoming meetings.”

Join with Concerned Neighbors

After the racist incident in Barrington this summer and the national discussion of race sparked by the George Floyd incident, a group of neighbors formed The Barrington Collective for Equity and Inclusion. The group is currently being renamed and re-tooled, but for now, if you’d like to be part of the local social-justice conversation and be aware of the group’s updates on ways to help Barrington become a truly inclusive town, you can request to join their private Facebook group.

Educate Yourself on racial issues

“DO THE WORK”: Educate yourself on racial issues. I have crowd-sourced a rough-draft document with ideas for educating yourself, many of which will only take 5-15 minutes of your time. I’ll be adding to it and making it more user-friendly as I have time.

I LOVE BARRINGTON. What a beautiful town, with some lovely people. But we can do so much better. Please join me in an effort to make Barrington a safe, inclusive place where people of color and other marginalized groups feel they truly belong.

Your neighbor,

Louise Sloan

Photo by Robin Jonathan Deutsch on Unsplash