Rhode Island police have arrested three young women and a female minor for assaulting a group of anti-gay Catholic activists who were protesting same-sex marriage. Red-sashed members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property were waving anti-gay signs at a Warwick intersection when the women stopped to confront them.
The salsa and eggs stopped flying, but the police continued to investigate. Now four young women face charges of assault and disorderly conduct. They’re accused of hurling food and drinks and spraying pepper spray at a group of men who stood in the median on Bald Hill Road and East Avenue Tuesday afternoon carrying signs supporting traditional marriage, Capt. Robert Nelson said Thursday morning. The men all gave the police an address in Spring Grove, Penn. — 1358 Jefferson Rd. — that’s the location for the Foundation for a Christian Civilization Inc., a group that’s in the midst of a caravan along the East Coast. The group states on its Web site that they make themselves “visible to motorists by engaging them to support traditional marriage.” [snip]
Thursday evening, the police arrested four women: Melissa Migliaccio, 22, Amanda L. Zangrilli, 23, Kristen A. Scungio, 19, and a 17-year-old female from Pontiac Street in Warwick, whom the police have not named because she is a juvenile. All are charged with at least one charge of battery or simple assault, and with disorderly conduct. The 17-year-old faces a more serious charge as well — felony assault with a dangerous weapon or substance, according to the police.
The Providence Journal posted an update on the story early Friday morning.
Amanda L. Zangrilli, 23, of West Warwick, said she and her girlfriend had seen the men in the same spot for a few days, and had “every intention” of bringing opposing signs of their own. Then, Tuesday afternoon, Zangrilli said, she and her girlfriend, Kristen A. Scungio, 19, also of West Warwick, saw the men again. She says they were pointing at the women, in a way that told her they realized the two were gay. Her girlfriend threw the soda bottle out the window –– missing the man she threw it toward, just as she had intended. “We heard him yell, ‘Ha ha, you missed,’ ” Zangrilli said.
The two drove to a friend’s house, gathered whatever they could get their hands on and returned with the friend. Zangrilli and Scungio said the men yelled at them when they returned, calling them the Antichrist, homosexuals and sinners. The men shouted anti-gay slurs at them, the women said, and one pushed his camera into Scungio’s face; she “pushed it away on instinct.” “And then the flagpole guy raised his pole to me, and I turned around and punched him because I wasn’t sure what he was going to do,” Scungio said. “I was wicked scared. It turned into, like, a riot.” Another woman driving by, an acquaintance of the women, jumped into the fray.
One of the women says she regrets the incident and feels “immature” for taking part. Members of the Catholic group deny having hurled anti-gay epithets at the women.
As I did in yesterday’s first post on this incident, again I must condemn the actions of these women, regretful though they may feel. We MUST always, always, always take the high road in these situations. No matter how hateful or hurtful the words, a physical response to offensive speech, no matter how justified it may feel in the moment, does absolutely nothing to further our cause and usually ends up providing the other side with anti-gay campaign talking points and fundraising opportunities. How many times did we have to hear about that miserable styrofoam cross woman last year? You can bet the story of the Warwick Four (or however the Christianists will dub them) will become yet another burdensome obstacle to marriage equality in Rhode Island and elsewhere in the nation. The entire situation is a fucking disaster and we can do better. We have to.