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From Oakland to Grand Rapids: March against Police Brutality

November 3, 2011

Yesterday about 50 people marched against police brutality, in an action organized by Occupy Grand Rapids.

This against was taken to stand in solidarity with the community of Oakland, California, which had called for a General Strike yesterday in response to police brutality. The General Strike in Oakland shut down the ports and the downtown banks.

The Occupy Grand Rapids event was designed to make a statement by marching through downtown Grand Rapids past locations that are directly connected to the systemic violence, which is manifested through police brutality.

People marched down Division, cut through the campus of GRCC, past the courthouse, stopped briefly at Calder Plaza, past the Federal building, down Monroe, up Monroe Center past the police station and back to Monument Park where the march began.

Along the way marchers chanted and some engaged people on the street and in their cars. Most of the feedback was positive even along Division Street where marchers continued to hold signs up until the time the general assembly meeting began.

At one point while marchers were walking up Monroe Center, a few members of the IWW entered the Jimmy Johns to hand out flyers, since there has been a national campaign to organize workers at Jimmy Johns over the past year.

When people gathered back at Monument Park along Division, there was a dispute amongst some present over one sign that said, “the only good cop is a dead cop.” The reporter from the Grand Rapids Press made this the focus of his story without providing any information on the real intent of the march or people’s experiences of police brutality in this community and across the country.

Several people this reporter spoke with had not only a critical view of police, they spoke about their lived experience of suffering at the hands of police brutality, both at other demonstrations and in their daily lives. One useful document that supports this systemic violence is a toolkit put together by the group INCITE on stopping police violence, which provides detailed analysis of police brutality in this country.

While there were clearly differences of opinion about the police at yesterdays march, the Press story was in no way an accurate depiction of the broad experiences of those present at yesterday’s action.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. gowild permalink
    November 3, 2011 1:35 pm

    The Press reporter also took an active role in creating the division in the group over the sign. It didn’t really become an issue until the reporter decided to make it one when the group turned up Monroe Center. When asked about it, he kept saying he was a friend of the movement… some friend!

    On Mlive he claims that he was accurately reporting the mood of the protest, but it really seemed like he was inciting the debate:

    Garret Ellison | The Grand Rapids Press November 02, 2011 at 8:38PM

    @donald: I’m sorry you don’t like the report, but it would be unethical from an objectivity standpoint to ignore something that completely changed the dynamic of the situation, even if it is a minority opinion. To discount the affect that one person had with their sign would be misrepresenting what happened.

  2. November 3, 2011 1:42 pm

    gowild, thanks for these comments. I was unaware that the reporter said he was a “friend of the movement.” This is just another reason to not talk to the commercial media as they often have their own agenda to sell audiences to advertisers.

  3. kswheeler permalink
    November 3, 2011 2:27 pm

    Garret Ellison is an arrrogant little diva and a completely irresponsbile reporter. If he ever took journalism classes, there certainly is no evidence of it in his reporting and writing.

    He editorializes with the use of adjectives and adverbs; he slants news to a conservative viewpoint; and now it sounds like he actively attempts to manipulate the news to find an angle to suit either his own political views or those of the Press. It’s appalling that he gathered commentary from people who had no problem with the sign and doesn’t even mention that in his “report.”

    In my opinion, he should at least be censured by his manager, if not fired, for what he did yesterday.

  4. Joel v permalink
    November 5, 2011 5:17 am

    Thanks for the report, Jeff. It’s great to hear about things happening in GR.

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