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GRPD threatened to arrest members of Movimiento Cosecha for chanting near the ArtPrize closing ceremony event

October 6, 2018

Last night, Movimiento Cosecha began its 5-day pilgrimage from Grand Rapids to Lansing, to demand drivers licenses for all.

This campaign not only highlights another repressive component of state violence – not allowing immigrants to obtain a drivers license – it demonstrates the resiliency and commitment of a movement led by immigrants.

An estimated 50 people gathered at Fountain Street Church last night, in order to share food and get last minutes instructions on 5-day pilgrimage, which would end in Lansing on October 9th for a state wide rally at the Capitol building.

However, before beginning the pilgrimage, Movimiento Cosecha organizers decided to hold a press conference by the statue at Rosa Parks Circle. The participants walked from Foundation Street Church to Rosa Parks circle and along the way they were met by cops with the GRPD.

This has been a pattern that Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE have seen in the past 18 months since they began organizing around immigrant justice, ICE violence and demanding an end to Kent County’s contract with ICE. Police have been intimidating, harassing and attempting to prevent participants in this movement from engaging the public through a variety of tactics. Within the last few weeks, we have seen an even larger police presence, most notably at the People Commission Action on September 13, an anti-ICE action that took place during the opening ceremony of ArtPrize on September 19th,  and the NoBusinessWithICE action on October 1st

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It was discovered a few days ago, that ArtPrize was further restricting what people could have on their person while coming to the closing ceremony in Rosa Parks Circle, displaying these signs at the entrance to a completed closed and policed event.

So, when the Drivers Licenses for All pilgrimage decided to walk by the Rosa Parks Circle, in order to get to the statue of Rosa Parks for their press conference, it was clear that the police were going to try to prevent them from disrupting the ArtPrize festivities.

There were no less than 50 members of the GRPD present around or near Rosa Parks circle – on foot, in cruisers, on bicycle, on horseback and using segways. This was on top of the ArtPrize security personnel, which were place at all of the entrances to Rosa Parks circle, which was completely closed off aside from one main entrance on the east side of the park. There was fencing place around the entire park and they police presence was so extreme, you would have thought they were trying to protect the Arc of the Covenant. (the pictures are grainy, since it was dark and raining, but you can get a sense of where the cops were stationed around the perimeter of Rosa Parks Circle)

Allies with Movimiento Cosecha who were providing crows safety were met by a line of cops, near the southeast entrance to Rosa Parks Circle. When they asked to speak to someone who was in charge the cops present called for one of the captains to come over. The crowd safety personnel were told that people walking with Movimiento Cosecha could got through the park, as long as they didn’t use bullhorns or making any noise that would disrupt the ArtPrize event.

Movimiento Cosecha participants walked through and when they got to the area of the northwest corner of the Art Museum, they began chanting and handing out flyers about the drivers license campaign. The cops were extremely agitated and told some of the crowd safety personnel that they would start arresting people if the chanting didn’t stop. However, those walking were continuously moving and eventually made it to the statue of Rosa Parks.

Once they arrived at the statue, they used a technique, which was made popular during the Occupy Movement, the People’s Mic. The People’s Mic is where someone says a sentence and then the entire crowd repeats it back, thus amplifying what was being said. The police did not stop this from happening and the press conference continued.

As is with all Movimiento Cosecha actions, the press conference was conducted in Spanish and English. There were no major news agencies present, but there were at least two Spanish-language entities there, filming the entire event, along with someone from the Rapidian.

Once the press conference was over, the pilgrimage officially began. Participants walked up Monroe Center, passing the ArtPrize event and chanting along the way. Once they arrived at Fulton St., they stayed on Fulton Street the entire time until they reached the destination of their first stop along the pilgrimage. The police followed the pilgrimage at least until Lafayette Street, making sure that the Movimiento Cosecha participants were not going to come back and further disrupt the ArtPrize event.

You can follow the progress of the pilgrimage to Lansing, by checking the Movimiento Cosecha GR Facebook page, where there will be regular posts throughout the next several days.

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