Dancing Cop Falsely Called Racist, Removed From Firefighter Parade
For the last five years, “Dancing Cop” Tony Lepore has been a part of the annual South Kingstown (RI) Fire Fighters Relief Association parade but he will not appear in this year’s parade scheduled for September 24.
Lepore, 69, who until 2015 was hired every December to entertain drivers and pedestrians with his high-energy, whistle-blowing, butt-wiggling traffic cop routine at certain Providence intersections, became a controversial figure when he led a boycott of a Dunkin’ Donuts branch where an employee had written “Black Lives Matter” on a coffee cup and handed it to a police officer.
“I stuck up for a police officer. That’s it,” Lepore said Thursday in discussing why he is characterized as holding racist and white supremacist views.
Amber Collins, 40, is a South Kingstown mother who is studying to become a minister and launched a social media campaign against Lepore being in the parade. “I understand that I have privilege,” she said Thursday. “I will use that privilege to stand up against white supremacy.”
In July, she created a change.org petition to persuade parade organizers that Lepore did not belong among the marching bands, fife and drum corps and bagpipers.
It was not the first time a petition attacked Lepore. A previous change.org petition garnered 465 supporters and called for the Providence Mayor to stop using Lepore in the annual Christmas season because he appeared in a commercial with a competitor of Dunkin’ Donuts.which did occur in 2015. He had been employed during the Christmas season for 30 years.
Unfortunately, we are not making this up.
The new petition says, in part: “Mr. LePore has gained local and national attention for his controversial, combative and racist public statements” and that “it is not appropriate for a person with Mr. LePore’s history and reputation to dance down our Main Street alongside our local true heroes, our own volunteer firefighters.”
By Thursday, the petition had 535 supporters.
Nathan Street, president of the relief association, issued a letter Wednesday saying the parade organizers had voted in August to withdraw Lepore’s invitation because the parade could not risk potential disruptions due to protesters.
Within 10 minutes of learning he had been uninvited, Lepore said, he accepted a parade in Mendon, Massachusetts but regrets not being able to honor the firefighters.