Learning from Providence, RI | Not in Our Town

Learning from Providence, RI


Not In Our Town was in Providence, RI in March 2024 to begin an exciting collaboration with state, local, and civil rights groups to bolster anti-hate awareness and community engagement.  
Pardeep Kaleka and Patrice O’Neill traveled to the region to screen ”Waking in Oak Creek,” meet with local leaders, learn about powerful anti-hate programs being implemented in RI, and present the Hate and Bias Action Team Program to the RI Commission on Prejudice and Bias (RICPB). 
At the screening, Pardeep spoke about the impact of the attack at the Sikh temple of WI on his family and his town, and also about how the film galvanized the community. 


Audience watch Waking In Oak Creek


The need to stand up to hate here and now in Providence was urgently brought home when Apostle Eric Perry of Shiloh Gospel Temple, a predominantly Black Pentecostal church in North Providence, spoke at the “Waking in Oak Creek screening about the arson attack by a white supremacist on the church in February. Luckily, the alleged perpetrator was caught and is now being prosecuted by federal officials. This news story shows a community gathering at the church shortly after the attack. 
“How can we feel safe after this attack?” asks a Shiloh parishioner. The community responds:

Shiloh Gospel Temple parishioners speak out

Congregants were deeply concerned about racist social media posts targeting the church and encouraging attacks against Black people. Apostle Perry said community support made a huge difference. He invited the group to join a Good Friday March for Peace in response to the attack. The call was heard.

Participants in the RICPB’s work, including representatives of the Nonviolence Institute, Jewish Alliance, and RI Guardians were there to show solidarity.
North Providence congregation spreads peace after alleged church arson

Not In Our Town learned about the groundbreaking engagement to improve hate crime reporting through the RI Attorney General’s office. Funded by a grant through the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the AG office is implementing programs with local law enforcement and community leaders to improve hate crime reporting and responses. Civil Rights Coordinator Ariana Ba is leading the BJA-funded program for the AG. 

Not In Our Town leader Pardeep Kaleka met local leaders in 2022 and 2023 through a summit organized by the Jewish community. At those meetings, he shared information about NIOT’s BJA-supported program: the Hate and Bias Action Teams. There was clear compatibility with aspirations in RI, and the programs created an opening for a powerful collaboration. 

“There is deep experience in Providence and Rhode Island with building long-term plans for safety and inclusion for all,” said Pardeep Kaleka.

“Not In Our Town is excited to see the possibility of much deeper progress in a community that commits elected leaders and local officials, and the engagement and support of the communities most harmed by hate,” Patrice O’Neill said. “We are thrilled to learn from Providence, and to bring our knowledge and resources from three decades of work with local communities to this engagement.”

RICPB coordinator Jen Stevens, a longtime community leader and LGBTQ+ advocate, organized a screening of “Waking in Oak Creek” on March 21st. The event was attended by community members, including leaders of organizations serving targeted communities, faith groups, City of Providence employees, and law enforcement. The panel was moderated by Commissioner Jim Vincent and included Apostle Eric Perry of Shiloh Gospel Temple, Civil Rights Coordinator Ariana Ba, Pardeep Kaleka, and filmmaker Patrice O’Neill of Not In Our Town.
Jen Stevens said,

“Viewing the powerful film together, and hearing from experienced panelists, provided a great opportunity for community leaders to discuss their fears and hopes around how we can work together to prevent mass hate events in Rhode Island. It felt like the community became a little bit closer, and that our work could make a big difference” 



Add new comment