Skip to content

Federal agents, along with the GRPD, seen in the Grandville Avenue area raises more questions about the role of the GRPD

May 18, 2017

Yesterday, the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan was informed by residents along the Grandville Avenue corridor that Federal agents and the GRPD made their presence known in the heart of the Latino community.

Shortly after the Hispanic Center received word from residents about the presence of law enforcement, they released a brief statement on their Facebook page stating:

Comunidad Latina de Grand Rapids,

Le pedimos que tenga cuidado hoy, Miercoles, el 17 de Mayo. Tenemos razon de creer que hay U.S Marshals en nuestros vecindarios.

Si usted no tiene sus documentos necesarios no salga de su casa. Si alguien toca su puerta y usted no sabe quien es, no habra la puerta. Informese de sus derechos. El Centro Hispano del Oeste se esta cominicando con la cuidad y el Departamento de Policia de Grand Rapids.

Latin community of Grand Rapids

We ask that you be careful today Wednesday, May 17. We have reason to believe US Marshals are out in our neighborhoods.

If you don’t have the necessary documents with you, do not go out on the street. If there is a knock on the door of your house and you don’t know who it is, don’t open the door. Inform yourself of your rights. The Hispanic Center of Western Michigan is communicating with the city as well as GRPD.

The statement was accompanied by the handout that the ‘Grand Rapids Immigrant Solidarity Network has been distributing, that lets people know what to do if ICE shows up, in both Spanish and English.  

Spanish language radio stations, La Mejor GR and La Poderosa both interviewed Hispanic Center director Roberto Torres about the presence of both ICE agents and the GRPD in the southwest part of the city.

Torres was clearly not happy that federal officers were present in the Grandville Avenue area, since the level of fear that people in the immigrant and undocumented community face on a daily basis. However, what seemed to bother the Hispanic Center director more, was the fact that the GRPD was with the federal officers.

This is in part because of what Grand Rapids Police Chief Rahinsky said at a forum held at the Hispanic Center in early March in regards to cooperating with ICE officials. In an interview that Rahinsky did after that community forum, he stated, “If an agency arrests someone who is here illegally and books them into either their municipal facility or their county facility, I believe we have an obligation to notify our federal counterparts in ICE of that arrest.”

This statement by the Grand Rapids Chief of Police is opposite of what he said to a group of community organizers and immigration lawyers back in December to talk about Grand Rapids becoming a Sanctuary City. At that meeting Rahinsky went so far as to say, “while we are not a Sanctuary City, we operate in such a way that we act as one.” He went on to say, “we don’t work to enforce national immigration policy.”

The question we must put in front of the Grand Rapids Police Chief is, “what were your officers doing with federal agents on May 17 in the Grandville Avenue corridor?” The GRPD claims to serve the community and Chief Rahinsky has gone out of his way to present himself as a supporter of immigrants, yet the practice of the GRPD is a completely different reality, a reality that is causing thousands of people in the immigrant and undocumented community to live in constant fear. 

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: