Saying they’ve heard nothing but good things about the way a local church has conducted itself since complaints in January, Town Council members last week dropped the matter from their agenda.
The council had been anticipating hearing from Lt. Thomas Jones with an update on the situation, but when he didn’t attend, they told church leaders that they’ve heard from neighbors who have spoken highly of how things have been handled at Shiloh Gospel Temple at 974 Charles St.
Councilor Ken Amoriggi, who had originally encouraged neighbors of the church to keep documenting the situation they were experiencing, said at the March 2 meeting that there’s been a “great job by the church stepping to the plate addressing noise issues.”
The Rev. Eric Perry then said he’d like to say his piece, saying it was wrong that he had to hear of complaints about the church from a North Providence Breeze reporter instead of being called in to answer to them. The Breeze had previously reported on the complaints made by a neighbor during a virtual meeting, but Perry said he didn’t know about that meeting until after he was made aware that it had already happened.
He again explained that the noise issues in question were around a multi-day celebration in January, and responding officers found no evidence of music that was too loud.
Perry said he was very upset by the whole situation, including having police in three patrol cars show up, saying he told officers that he felt this was harassment.
“It shouldn’t have been that way,” he said.
He said it was “very embarrassing” to have false claims made about the church, including that there was smoking of marijuana there.
“I’ve never smoked a joint in my life,” he said.
“That should not have been discussed,” he said. “It came against who I am and who this ministry is.”
He reminded officials of the reputation he’s worked hard to build over decades and how his church cleaned up the property when it moved in three years ago.
Perry said there is simply too much going on in the world right now with police and race relations for departments to be sending multiple officers to a noise complaint at a Black church.
“We need to stick together,” he said. “I want peace.”
Council President Dino Autiello apologized for what the church was put through. He said Jones called in prior to the March 2 meeting to say that everything was going great, saying the council appreciates everything the church is doing for the community.
Mayor Charles Lombardi asked Perry if he would be willing to meet with him to clear the air and hopefully “all live happily ever after,” and Perry responded that he would.