PROVIDENCE — Just days after a weekend of violence that left an innocent 24-year old woman dead and several others injured in multiple stabbing and shooting incidents, Providence police are searching for a group of ATV and dirt bike riders who reportedly dragged a woman out of her car and beat her when she stopped at a traffic light.
The 35-year-old victim was driving with her 8-year-old daughter, her puppy, and a friend, said police. The driver first encountered the group of approximately 10 ATV and dirt bike riders in Smith Hill at the intersection of Smith and Orms Street at 11 p.m. Tuesday. When the bikes did not move after the light turned green, she honked at them, and then turned onto Valley Street.
She stopped her car at a traffic light at Zone Street, and the riders allegedly came up from behind her and surrounded her vehicle, preventing her from moving forward. Police said several of them were described as riding blue dirt bikes.
The victim told police that the riders stepped off their bikes, opened the driver’s side doors of the car and “dragged” her out of the driver’s seat and onto the street. The riders allegedly punched and kicked her before returning to their bikes and riding away on Valley Street, leaving her in the road, according to a copy of the police report that was sent to the Globe.
The victim was not taken to the hospital.
Local politicians and leaders are now calling for officials to put out a plan to address the violence that is shaking the city.
Providence Councilman David Salvatore of Ward 14 said he was “horrified” to hear the reports of the woman being dragged from her car and beaten.
“As a husband, father and resident of Providence, this news is disturbing and deeply unsettling,” said Salvatore.
He called on Mayor Jorge Elorza, Commissioner Steven Paré, and the Providence Police Department to address the violence in Providence, which he said “has become an out of control, almost daily threat to the safety of our residents.”
“As local leaders, we owe it to our community to create systems which ensure that our city is a safe place to live and work. A woman driving in her car with her child should not have to fear being a victim of brutal physical violence,” said Salvatore.
Councilman John Goncalves, of Ward 1, issued a similar statement Wednesday, and called for the Council to meet with the mayor and police.
“It is our responsibility to face these matters head on and make critical changes to stop the cycle of any violence that is endangering the community and the residents of our city,” said Goncalves.
We had an awful incident in our city last night that left a young woman shaken and injured. We will continue to dedicate all our available resources to getting these illegal ATVs off our streets and to bring those responsible to justice.— Jorge Elorza (@Jorge_Elorza) August 4, 2021
Elorza, who is in New Hampshire on a pre-planned vacation with his family, will be represented in the council meeting by members of his administration, according to his office. On Wednesday, he tweeted, “We had an awful incident in our city last night that left a young woman shaken and injured. We will continue to dedicate all our available resources to getting these illegal ATVs off our streets and to bring those responsible to justice.”
He continued: “Our police department has seized and destroyed over 200 bikes and we will continue to pull over and arrest people who are using these bikes illegally.”
Elorza’s office told the Globe that he is in “ongoing conversations” with Providence Police and Paré. Governor Dan McKee did not offer a statement.
Councilwoman Kat Kerwin, whose district is where the incident took place, has not responded to the Globe regarding Tuesday’s violence nor did she offer a statement.
Council President John Igliozzi on Wednesday said he would schedule a special Council as a Whole meeting early next week to “urgently address this unacceptable outbreak of violent crime.”
“Too many Providence residents do not feel safe as our city is experiencing this surge in violent crime,” said Igliozzi in a statement. “I strongly support Governor McKee’s call to allow the Rhode Island State Police to coordinate with the Providence Police Department to provide additional resources and foot patrols. This should happen immediately.”
In addition, Igliozzi said he and Finance Chairwoman Jo-Ann Ryan will work to include funding for an additional Police Academy in the 2022-23 budget.
”We must get our Providence Police force back to the 500 full-time officers needed to fully reimplement community policing… We need more police on the streets, interacting with our residents, business owners, and community groups to prevent these types of horrific, random crimes,” he said.
Providence’s Fraternal Order of Police released a statement on Wednesday that said people on social media are claiming that the people on ATVs and dirt bikes “aren’t hurting anyone.”
“The Mayor and Commissioner refuse to allow the Providence Police to engage in proactive measures to keep these unsafe vehicles off the street, but where do they draw the line? The more we embolden criminal behavior and turn a blind eye, the worse the city will get,” read the statement. “Random crimes terrorizing and hurting innocent, law-abiding citizens are becoming all too commonplace in the city.”