Activists protest at Providence Dunkin' Donuts in support of black lives matter movement

Protestors marched in Providence Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in support of the “black lives matter” movement. (WJAR)

Protestors marched in Providence Monday afternoon in support of the "black lives matter" movement.

A group of about 50 people gathered outside of a Providence Dunkin' Donuts on Atwells Avenue, where an employee last week wrote "black lives matter" on a police officer's cup of coffee.

For about an hour, they carried signs and posters in support of the movement. Several told NBC 10 News they believe the employee didn't do anything wrong.

Activists also said they feel the Providence Police Union overreacted to the incident and that the phrase, "black lives matter," isn't anti-police, but pro-African American.

"It means we matter, too," said Jorrell Kaykay. "We matter just as much as everybody elseWe're no different. There's nothing different between us and anybody else."

Donna Schmader shared similar sentiments.

"We just want the police to say, in fact, black lives do matter," she said. "Why can't they just say that?"

Schmader went on to note that "no one is saying only black lives matter. We're saying black lives matter. I don't see a problem that saying black lives matter."

"Providence needs to value black lives and the black folks that live here," said Sarath Soung.

But the employees' actions were criticized by the Providence Police Union. It also caused one retired police officer to call for a boycott for the particular Dunkin' Donuts location. However, the boycott was called off when the store owner apologized.

Protestors said writing "black lives matter" on a coffee cup shouldn't require an apology.

"All black lives matter is saying, 'Be mindful that we matter, too,'" Kaykay said. "We're not saying that gives us the right to step out of bounds or disrespect you, we're saying that we matter, too. Keep that in mind that you're dealing with a human being and not some random thug, not some random hoodlum."

Providence police officers, along with Rhode Island State troopers, attended Monday's event. Police Chief Hugh Clements told NBC 10 officers were there because of the Columbus Day Feast, as well as make sure the protest didn't get out of hand.

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