Providence's famed 'Dancing Cop' kicked off the beat
(WJAR) -- The "Dancing Cop" won't be directing traffic in Providence this year following a meeting with the police chief and the public safety commissioner.
After 30 years of entertaining holiday crowds in Rhode Island's capital city, Tony Lepore will have to take his moves elsewhere.
"People from all over Providence - they can't believe it. They can't believe it," Lepore told NBC 10 News on Tuesday. "They had plans to bring their kids down."
Lepore courted controversy in October. He called on a boycott of a Dunkin' Donuts store when another officer was served a cup of coffee with #BlackLivesMatter written on it. Lepore eventually called off the boycott.
Lepore told NBC 10 News he knew the risks when he organized the protest. He said he was just supporting police officers.
But it wasn't until a meeting on Tuesday that he was told his holiday dance is over and he was asked to turn in his uniform.
Public safety commissioner Steven Pare said Lepore's protest strained police relations with minority community leaders.
"It appeared to the community that he was representing the Providence Police Department, and what he was saying was not reflective of this department," said Pare.
Kobi Dennis, a community leader who signed a protest calling for an end to the dancing cop, believes Leopore's firing is a powerful statement by Providence police.
"No one disliked the dancing cop. No one disliked what he did for our city. What we disliked is that he tried to take a situation that was already inflamed and he tried to make it worse," said Dennis.
While Lepore says his dancing days in Providence are over for now, he's already has gigs lined up for next year.
"If there's other towns want me to do a Christmas for them, I'm here," he said.
Leopore refused to turn in his uniform because he said he paid for it. But he said he will no longer wear the Providence Police Department badge and that he will make his own.
He's sad he won't be dancing in Providence for the holidays, but he'll move on.
In fact, he has a performance lined up for Saturday.