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Protestors confront Betsy DeVos during her visit to GRCC

August 2, 2017

Yesterday, about 40 people showed up to the Grand Rapids Community College to confront Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as she toured a few buildings on campus.

The DeVos family has contributed significantly to GRCC over the years, which resulted in the former Davenport College on Fulton St. being named the DeVos Campus.

MLive had reported less than 24 hours ago that DeVos would be making a stop in Grand Rapids, thus making it difficult for people to turn out on short notice. 

DeVos was in Grand Rapids earlier that morning and visited with students at the Van Andel Education Institute, which is not a public education facility. It was a strategic move on the part of the Education Secretary to not announce her visit to the Van Andel Education Institute.

People involved in organizing today’s action began meeting near the GRCC campus at 12:30 and were under surveillance by the GRCC campus security and the GRPD, which had officers in cars all over the campus.

Once it was determined which building Betsy DeVos would be entering, those protesting lined up along Ransom Street in front of the GRCC campus. You can see people in the pictures that were there to confront DeVos and you can see law enforcement people waiting inside the parking ramp.

DeVos showed up in a white SUV with tinted windows, followed by another vehicle, also with tinted windows, before anyone realized it was her.

However, those who organized the protest were undeterred and went up to the campus and inside the building hoping to confront the Secretary of Education while touring the building. People were met by campus security who told them they would be arrested if they moved beyond a certain point, as you can see in the video here.

People with the group Socialist Alternative, then decided to go to the Godfrey St. campus of GRCC, since DeVos was headed there next. The group held the same large banner and was told by the GRPD that they could be on the property before DeVos’ vehicle showed up.

However, when the vehicle transporting Betsy DeVos showed up, people tried to block the entrance to the campus. The cops threatened to arrest them and those protesting did move, but not fast enough for the cops, since one of the people attempted to block the entrance was pushed and shoved.

Alex Kelley contributed to this article.

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