To the Editor:
On May 30th, I attended the fundraiser for Sen. Mark McKenney, with my husband. The behavior of the firefighters at Iggy's was beyond appalling.
I am a retired Warwick teacher and union member. I have participated in many pickets and demonstrations over the years, supporting our union positions. None were similar to these firefighters' tactics.
Not only did they get in our faces, and try to intimidate us, but they acted the same way to anyone who came to the restaurant. Customers were simply trying to come in and have dinner. It was childish. It was bullying.
It was a sad episode to witness.
When we left, we dealt with the same types of interactions. Restaurant patrons should not have to wiggle their way through a howling scrum of dissidents, whether it's to have a quiet seaside dinner or attend a political gathering.
Unfortunately, no police appeared to be controlling the crowd. It was not Warwick's finest moment.
This was a protest, not a picketing situation. There is no contract
dispute. There is no labor action. These people have every right to protest the Senator's vote and statements, but the manner in which they were picketing was simply wrong.
And the protesters didn't even know that Sen. McKenney had apologized, long before the event, for any offense his remarks might have given. Their leadership should have told them that.
I spoke to a section of the crowd as we left. I told them that my dad was not only a firefighter, but the last Warwick firefighter to die on duty.
I told them that my Dad, Captain Albert Genever, would not approve of their tactics. He would not support the kind of universal harassment being rained on anyone who dared enter Iggy's Boardwalk that night.
All they wanted to do was challenge me on that, and get in my face. I told them to go back and look at the fallen firefighter's memorial - that bears his name. Then I walked away... with tears in my eyes.
The volume and intensity were over the top. But it appeared to be more of a party for the firefighters at Iggy's. They were "flexing their muscles" while enjoying a nice summer evening – all at the expense of the restaurant owner, the workers (a number had to be sent home) and customers.
I'm sure there were many decent people that night. Probably many dads that support the anti-bullying programs at their kids' schools. It seemed to be a "mob mentality" that got away from them. While I'm certain that many of these people would never act that way if they were elsewhere, when they were with the crowd, they seemed to have no inhibitions.
I know that Sen. McKenney genuinely supports our men and women in uniform, who put themselves at risk to keep us safe. I believe he handled this situation with grace and humility. He makes us all extremely proud to call him our friend and our Senator.
Susan Quaine Remick