Tony Lepore, the famous “dancing cop” who every holiday season had been hired to conduct traffic during the holiday season in Providence, won’t be dancing this year. The traffic officer said he was fired by Providence police Tuesday over a protest he staged last month against a Dunkin’ Donuts employees who wrote “#blacklivesmatter” on a fellow police officer’s cup, the Associated Press reported.
A small protest organized by Lepore was held outside a Dunkin’ Donuts store in October to support the officer who had the hashtag written on the cup. Lepore, 68, wanted the employee who wrote on the cup to be fired.
In organizing the protest, Lepore implied that his views represented those of the Providence Police Department, which Commissioner Steven Pare said was an inaccurate impression. "Mr. Lepore was not authorized to speak on behalf of the Providence Police Department and his actions were, in my judgment, a disservice to the department and to members of the Providence community," Pare said in a statement to the AP.
— Mike LaCrosse ABC6 (@MikeLaCrosse) November 25, 2015
Lepore was a Providence police officer until 1989 when he retired. The police department then hired him to direct traffic during the holidays. He is known in Providence for his famous dance moves.
The Black Lives Matter social justice movement, which arose amid a number of police killings of young black men, has put a spotlight on police brutality in the past two years. Lepore said Providence officials didn’t take all the work he has done for the city into consideration before his firing. He also said he has no regrets organizing the protest.
"I just want people out there to support their police department. I was a policeman for seventeen years and I know how tough this job is,” Lepore said to WLNE-TV in Providence after the protest. “I think this group targeted coffee shops because they know that police are out there eight hours and that they love coffee.”
— Jackie Tempera (@jacktemp) November 25, 2015
In response to the protest, Dunkin’ Donuts apologized for the employee’s actions, and said it was committed to showing respect to all police. Lepore, who has appeared on national television and whose dance moves can be seen on Youtube, said he plans to travel to schools and parades as a performer.