The kickoff event will be held at 1:30 p.m. on June 30 outside RIPTA headquarters at 705 Elmwood Avenue in Providence. (Media parking will be available on the street.) The location was chosen to highlight new bus advertisements that are part of the campaign. Committee members said they recognize that many court users utilize public transportation to get to and from the state’s courthouses. Phase 1 of the campaign will highlight four sitting judicial officers and their reflections on justice. Those judges include Supreme Court Justice Melissa A. Long, Superior Court Associate Justice Luis M. Matos, Family Court Associate Justice Lia N. Stuhlsatz, and Workers’ Compensation Court Associate Judge Keith A. Cardoza Jr.
Among those expected to give brief remarks on Wednesday afternoon are Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell; Justice Long, who chairs the committee; Scott Avedisian, RIPTA chief executive officer; and Jim Vincent, president of the Providence branch of the NAACP and RIPTA outreach officer. Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos is expected to attend.
The Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts is a 12-member body of judges appointed by Chief Justice Suttell and representing all six courts in Rhode Island’s unified judicial system. The committee’s goals are to identify areas where systemic racism exists in the various courts and develop a plan to address it; identify and present training opportunities for judicial officers in areas such as implicit bias, and engage the public in forums outside of court to better understand their experiences with the Judiciary. As the COVID-19 pandemic eases across the region, the committee plans to schedule listening sessions and forums with the public in the coming months. The public awareness campaign is supported by a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation.