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Coalition of groups hold Press Conference to issue demands in light of increased GRPD and ICE violence

March 26, 2019

Earlier today, members of Movimiento Cosecha GR, GR Rapid Response to ICE and the group 360 GR Movement, held a press conference in front of City Hall to address recent violence against the Black, Latino/Latinx and immigrant communities in Grand Rapids.

It has been a month since members of Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response disrupted the City Commission meeting, particularly in response to the GRPD’s role in contacting ICE against Jilmar Ramons-Gomez. 

Since that late February Grand Rapids City Commission meeting, the GRPD union has attempted to present activist groups as mobs and suggest that the GR City Commission has “caved” to the demands. The reality is that the city only responded to one of the demands presented in February, which was calling for Captain VanderKooi to be fired for his role in contacting ICE. The other demands – 1) the City of Grand Rapids should use no resources to support ICE and not cooperate with ICE violence against the immigrant community and 2) the City of Grand Rapids should endorse Movimiento Cosecha GR’s Drivers License for All campaign; these demands have been completely ignored. 

Those who spoke at the Press Conference held earlier today not only addressed the fact that the City of Grand Rapids has ignored the previous demands, they responded to recent incidents of police violence against members of the black and brown communities, which we have written about as well. 

Now these three groups have added to their demands and will present them at the Grand Rapids City Commission meeting tonight (March 26). What follows is a list of the new set of demands that was put together by the 360 GR Movement, Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE.

  • Fire Captain Curt VanderKooi and the unnamed officer who beat the young man in the car.  VandeKooi has a long history of discrimination based on race and he is not safe for our neighborhoods.
  • Stop all cooperation with ICE and use no city resources to do the work of ICE.  There should be no police role of “ICE liaison.”
  • Support Driver’s Licenses for All in the State of Michigan.
  • Release the code of conduct for officers and the track record of each officer in following this code of conduct, including complaints against them.  Release the reports of their investigations so that the public can track their accountability processes. Create an accountability reprimand policy for all officers that stand by during instances of beatings or other harm.
  • Create subpoena powers and investigative powers for our Civilian Appeals Board.
  • Give a vote of No Confidence to Acting Chief Kiddle.
  • Create a program whereby GRPD pays for at minimum 5 years of trauma-related therapy especially for any youth interaction deemed inappropriate regarding harassment, profiling, excessive force etc.
  • Appropriate the million dollars a year that the city has set aside to deal with community police relations directly to the community instead of it just standing by while police incidents continue to separate our community.  The community knows best what to do with that money to make our neighborhoods safer.

Besides attending the Grand Rapids City Commission meeting to present these demands, the three groups will be speaking to these demands at the Michigan Civil Rights Commission public hearing this Thursday, hearing that are being held because of the recent documented GRPD acts of violence against communities of color.

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