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Prominent RI families' links to slavery; one nursing home's COVID fight

Providence Journal - 2/26/2021

Good afternoon and welcome to This Just In. I'm Mike McDermott, managing editor of The Providence Journal. It's a big weekend in the McDermott house as we're celebrating the 14th birthday of my oldest son, Logan (high school here we come). And we're all hoping it's the last time we have a family birthday without anyone from outside the house joining in the celebration.

They were two of the most prominent families in Rhode Island's formative days. The Champlin name lives on in one of the state's most prominent charitable foundations. The Stantons, meanwhile, produced one of the state's first two U.S. senators. And both families owned slaves in South County. They certainly weren't alone. As Wayne Miller writes today, the slave-holding legacies of these two families are part of a much larger story that is being explored as part of a new initiative called "Illuminating History: An Exploration of the History of Slavery in South County, Rhode Island.”

The toll of coronavirus has been most tragic, in Rhode Island and in many other places, at nursing homes. Today, as the state nears the one-year anniversary of its first confirmed COVID case, Tom Mooney and Katie Mulvaney of our Watchdog Team go inside one hard-hit nursing home's fight against the virus.

New coronavirus cases in Rhode Island had been declining sharply, and consistently, for six straight weeks, but that momentum appears to have stalled. The state today reported six coronavirus-associated deaths and 437 additional cases. It was the third straight day that the seven-day new-case average has gone up in Rhode Island, and the average is now higher than it was a week ago. Hospitalizations also ticked up slightly. Health Department spokesman Joseph Wendelken notes that test positivity is holding steady at less than 3%.

Congressman David Cicilline was able to celebrate a significant victory on Thursday after the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, which he has championed as lead sponsor. But the bill, which would enshrine protections for LGTBQ people into federal civil-rights law, faces formidable hurdles in the Senate.

The assault trial of Providence police Sgt. Joseph Hanley continued today with Hanley taking the stand, then going to the floor to demonstrate his handcuffing technique and what he described as "compliance strikes" on his lawyer's partner.

Rhode Island is about to have a new top federal prosecutor. U.S. Attorney Aaron Weisman, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, has submitted his resignation.

Former two-term Cranston Mayor Allan Fung has a new job, as a partner in a prominent Rhode Island law firm.

Across the country, many four-year liberal-arts colleges and universities are reporting a troubling falloff in applications for the coming school year. But most Rhode Island institutions say they are in a stable place.

Warwick police have charged a 28-year-old woman with intentionally starting a fire that displaced 60 residents of Les Chateaux apartment complex. The suspect was the focus of a 2013 Journal story that documented her struggle as a teenager with severe mental illness.

Our football writer, Mark Daniels, continues his position-by-position analysis of the Patriots roster with a look at the defensive ends. When he writes that Chase Winovich stands out, he's not just talking about the hair.

John Kostrzewa's Walking RI column heads to Aquidneck Island this weekend.

Finally, Rhode Islanders have been well represented on the TV show "The Voice," and that tradition will continue Monday night when Burrillville country-rock musician Jesse DeSorcy auditions.

Have a great weekend, and remember, if you enjoy This Just In, please encourage a friend to sign up.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Prominent RI families' links to slavery; one nursing home's COVID fight


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