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One of the biggest looters in Grand Rapids has a problem with the recent protests

June 3, 2020

One of the things I learned from Noam Chomsky, was the value of reading the business press. According to Chomsky, the business press if often more honest in the sense that it provides a forum for the wealthiest people to speak freely.

This happened in a Grand Rapids Business Journal article on June 1st, where Sam Cummings, one of the partners with CWD, provided his reaction to Saturday’s uprising in Grand Rapids. The article was entitled, CWD Real Estate sees silver lining in aftermath of violent protests, with Cummings stating:

Sam Cummings, managing partner with CWD, said he was “mad as hell” Saturday night and Sunday morning, but witnessing the community outreach and cleanup afterward restored his faith in West Michigan.

“That is not who we are, and that was confirmed by talking to some folks on the police force,” Cummings said. “Who we were was (Sunday).”

“The peaceful gatherings are a justified, honorable and rightful thing to have occur,” Cummings said. “Those things should be protected, but when they escalate to damaging small businesses — we got guys who have had their entire inventory wiped out — when they escalate to damaging other people’s property or their employees, it’s not acceptable.”

None of what Cummings has to say is surprising, since he values above all else – profit making and power. His comments are instructive in that they reflect this whitewashed history of GR – which ignores the history of settler colonialism and Jim Crow policies that have brutalized and looted black communities for decades.

We have to see Cummings, and his partners Wierda and DeVos, as some of the real looters in this city. As we wrote in 2017

CWD was in the news last Thursday, after the Grand Rapids City Commission voted unanimously to approve $2.3 million in reimbursements through brownfield funding for a new hotel project. In addition, the Downtown Development Authority awarded CWD an additional $895,000 in tax abatements this past February

These reimbursements or subsidies is taxpayer money, public money, and this $3 million is from just one development project. In addition, according to the CWD website, they own more than 3 million square feet or retail and urban office real estate in the area. We have to ask ourselves, how is it that three white men were able to acquire this much property, especially while so many in the black community live in shitty housing, that many of them cannot afford.

Sam Cummings has been involved in the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, the Michigan Association of Realtors, currently sits on the Aquinas College Foundation Board, is a GVSU Foundation Trustee, was a Trustee at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, a former board member of The Right Place Inc and former Grand Rapids Art Museum Foundation Trustee. Cummings was also instrumental in the failed Grand Prix races in downtown GR back in 1996. The Grand Prix shut down the downtown for several days, cost the city a ton of money and disrupted the lives of people who lived in downtown at the time. In fact, Cummings drove one of the race cars, seeing Grand Rapids as his own little play ground.

I am grateful for the comments by Sam Cummings in the GRBJ, since they contribute to our understanding of how members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure think, plus it should help us have clarity about the fact that Sam Cummings has been looting Grand Rapids for decades.

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