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Another “West Michigan Nice” response: GR Police Chief says we need more cops on anniversary of black youth who were held at gunpoint by the GRPD

March 23, 2018

Yesterday, MLive ran a story 1 year after Grand Rapids Police officers held 5 black youth at gunpoint, because they “fit the description” of someone who had a gun in their backpack. 

The comments from the youth was moving to read. It was also instructive, because they basically said that they Do Not Trust the Cops. This response is completely understandable, because of the trauma these kids experienced being held at gunpoint, but it is also reflective of a larger experience of mistrust between black communities and  the police. In fact, this experience that black people has towards law enforcement dates back to the days of slavery, where policing was born in the US.

However, what was more revealing than the mistrust of police by black youth, was the comments from Grand Rapids Police Chief Rahinsky.

Rahinsky said:

  • The cops responded appropriately when they held these 5 black youth at gunpoint.
  • What cops need to do is play basketball with these kids to try to avoid these situations in the future.
  • And, that in a perfect world, he would have more officers.

In other words, that practice of holding black youth at gunpoint will continue and that they need more cops. Rahinsky also conveniently puts the focus back on “bad” youth when he said, “Unfortunately, we live in a culture where it’s not uncommon to take a handgun off of a child.”

In addition, the head of the GRPD fails to truly address the lack of trust that black people have with cops, almost dismissing this by suggesting that if he had more officers who could play basketball with these kids, things would be all good.

This flies in the face of what black people have been saying for decades about cops, which is in intricate part of the platform of the Movement for Black Lives, reflected here on the right. In Grand Rapids more cops playing basketball with black youth is just another “West Michigan Nice” response. 

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