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Narragansett council president’s call to defy R.I. governor’s COVID orders fizzles

A screen shot of the Narragansett town council's Zoom meeting.
A screen shot of the Narragansett town council's Zoom meeting.Amanda Milkovits/The Boston Globe

An attempted strike against Governor Gina M. Raimondo’s coronavirus orders by a town leader in the seaside town of Narragansett quickly washed out.

Narragansett Town Council President Matthew Mannix withdrew his resolution directing the police to defy the governor’s orders and not issue fines against restaurants and places of worship that don’t follow the rules.

As hundreds of people watched and listened to Monday’s council meeting, held over Zoom and streamed on YouTube, Mannix insisted he wasn’t motivated by “selfishness” or “recklessness" to put forward the resolution in the first place.

Mannix said he was reacting to the “societal ills” caused by the fear and restrictions under COVID-19. He said he was in favor of “personal responsibility, not state-imposed responsibility." He thought the restrictions were imposing a greater risk on society than isolation.


But he said he knew that three of his fellow council members weren’t going to support it, so there was no point in going forward. The resolution was pulled without further comment.

Councilors Patrick Murray, a Republican, and Jesse Pugh, a Democrat, had both spoken out publicly against it, and president pro tem Jill Lawler reportedly opposed it as well. Some residents had been eager to speak, posting their comments in favor and against in the webinar chat room as they waited to be heard.

The council meeting over Zoom went as most Zoom meetings go -- awkward camera angles, inadvertently muted microphones, and a webinar chat room of hundreds of observers, including hecklers posting as President Donald J. Trump, Governor Gina M. Raimondo, and Mannix’s Mom.

The town council unanimously approved the “Movies on the Beach” summer series and the Sixth Annual Calamari Festival for September.

All with the caveat that COVID-19 could change their plans for the future.

Amanda Milkovits can be reached at amanda.milkovits@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits.