‘I really hate China’: Rhode Island officials accused of racism, sexism during Philadelphia trip

‘I really hate China’: Rhode Island officials accused of racism, sexism during Philadelphia trip
via Morrow Long (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Bryan Ke
June 14, 2023
Two Rhode Island officials have triggered two investigations after being accused of “sexist, racist behavior” during a trip to Philadelphia in March.
About the incident: David Patten, director of the Rhode Island’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, and James Thorsen, former director of the state’s Department of Administration, traveled to Philadelphia on March 10 to meet with urban development and design firm Scout Ltd. to discuss a revamp of Cranston Street Armory in Providence, Rhode Island.
Everett Abitbol, Scout’s director of hospitality and development, as well as Lindsey Scannapieco, a managing partner at the company, alleged in an email dated March 12 that the officials made “bizarre, offensive and unprofessional actions” during the trip.
What was said: Patten allegedly asked, “Are these made in China? I hope not because I really hate China” after an employee gave him a pair of sneakers while he was visiting the headquarters of sportswear brand Diadora in Philadelphia.
He then purportedly turned to an Asian American female staff member and said, “No offense, hun.”
Patten also allegedly commented on Scannapieco’s appearance, saying, “If I knew your husband wasn’t going to be here, I would have come last night.”
He also allegedly told her, “Good thing you’re married or I would move to Philadelphia.”
Details emerge: More details about the incident were revealed in an email released by Gov. Dan McKee on Thursday after Attorney General Peter F. Neronha ordered him to publicly release the email. The governor has faced backlash for what critics describe as his “totally inadequate and offensive” response to the situation.
The aftermath: Rhode Island police and the governor’s office have reportedly begun separate investigations into the claims. Thorsen, who had submitted his resignation before the trip, is now working at the U.S. Treasury Department, while Patten has been put on paid administrative leave.
Patten’s attorney, Michael Lynch, told WPRI that his client’s behavior was attributed to “a mental health event characterized by health professionals as an acute stress event that built up over time.”

 
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