Political brinksmanship was at the root of a wild melee that broke out between Narragansett Indians and law enforcers at an Indian-operated smoke shop Monday in Rhode Island, according to the Providence Journal.
Matthew Thomas, leader of the Narragansett Indians, sent an e-mail on Saturday to Governor Carcieri informing him that the smoke shop was going to open that day. The tribe’s leader said they were opening the shop due to the failure of Carcieri and the General Assembly to pass a referendum on a thorny Indian casino issue.
The tribe sent the e-mail at 9 a.m. The smoke shop opened for business two hours later, and people flooded the shop to buy the tribe’s offering of tax-free cigarettes.
What unfolded over the next 48 hours was a period of negotiations, deliberations and finally a communication breakdown that led to the melee in Charlestown on Monday.