At inaugural ceremonies Sunday in front of the State House, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos received a standing ovation for remarks that weren’t in her prepared script. It was an opportunity for the audience to also express their frustration with a man who had been shouting his opinion that state leaders have failed to hold the DCYF accountable and scores of children aren’t receiving the services they should.
The man who videotaped his taunts to officials they were “liars,” identified himself as “Fake Mike, Real News.” Asked for his real name, he replied, “I don’t answer questions.”
He continued videotaping while this reporter asked questions.
The yells from “Fake Mike” interrupted remarks of every speaker, including the invocation delivered by LTC Timothy Bourquin, chaplain of the Rhode Island National Guard. He was not approached nor asked to stop his rants. He was not escorted from the scene by either police or members of the National Guard in attendance.
This evidently is not his first appearance. Anthony Silva, chief of staff to Gov. Dan McKee shrugged off the antics as a ploy to trigger a confrontation that he would record, post on YouTube and go virtual. Silva identified “Fake Mike” as being with the group 1st Amendment Audit.
But Matos, the state’s 70th lieutenant governor and the first Afro-Latina to hold the post, didn’t let “Fake Mike” get under her skin. She gave her story of being born in the Dominican Republic and how story is like the stories of many in the audience.
“It’s families looking for better opportunities and a new life in the greatest country in the world,” she said.
She talked about immigrating to this country in 1994 and arriving in New York City on a Friday. By the following Monday, she had a job.
She went on to tell how she came to Providence, earned a degree at Rhode Island College, became involved in the community and ran for City Council. She lost her first bid for public office but went on to win a council seat and rise to the position of City Council president.
The rest is recent history. With Gina Raimondo stepping down mid-term to accept a cabinet post with President Joe Biden, McKee became governor. He named Matos from a list of more than 80 people who had submitted their names for the post.
Matos said she welcomes working as a team with McKee. She listed the challenges and the agenda to ensure “children in the richest nation on Earth don’t go to bed hungry,” that workers are paid sufficient to afford to live here and that everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream regardless of race or their birth country. She also said she shares McKee’s commitment to get shots in arms and businesses reopened and his goal of sustainable affordable housing.
“You’re crazy, how dare you?” yelled “Fake Mike.”
It’s when Matos put aside her script.
“America gives the right to everybody to have a voice, also,” she said. The audience stood, their applause drowning out “Fake Mike.”