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Local news reports Cop exonerated from shooting civilian with 40mm chemical round during the May 30 uprising in Grand Rapids, but fails to discuss the Riot-Control Industrial Complex

June 28, 2020

On Friday, the local commercial news media reported that the Grand Rapids Police officer who shot a 40mm chemical round, also known as “spede heat”, has been cleared of any criminal charges, according to Kent County prosecutor Chris Becker.

Unfortunately, the local news media does not explore a couple of critical aspects of this case, which occurred during the May 30 uprising in Grand Rapids, an uprising that was sparked by the police murder of Black people across the US.

One major issue is how the Kent County Prosecutor interpreted the law in this case. WOODTV8 does provide a link to the document, which contains the legal decision made by the Kent County Prosector. People should read this document, since it provides a window into how so many laws that are adopted favor the police and limit the ability of the public to dissent.

On page two of this document, one can read the legal language about why a riot is considered a crime. The language is very vague and as always allows the state a great deal of power to interpret what “causing public terror or alarm” actually means.

The Kent County Prosecutor then weights in on the cop who shot a civilian with the 40mm chemical round during the May 30 uprising. Again, the language of the law protects police behavior, even if that behavior does harm.

I also found the comment from the munitions instructor with the GRPD rather revealing above.

The last paragraph of the document is maybe the most revealing, in that it provides language which essentially absolves the cops of any harm they inflict on people during “an unlawful assembly or riot.”

None of these issues were really discussed in the local new reporting on this legal decision to not charge the GRPD cop with a crime for shooting a 40mm chemical round at a civilian.

One additional issue, which the local news media failed to discussed, is why does the police department even have such weapons and where are they purchasing these weapons from?

Again, the Kent County Prosecutor provides an image of what the weapons used look like, as seen here in the photo below.

The top weapon, the spede heat, was what the cop fired at the civilian, and the bottom image is what the cop thought they loaded into their weapon.

The weapons pictured above are manufactured by a company called Defense Technology, which is a subsidiary of Safariland Group. Safariland Group is part of what could be called the Riot-Control Industrial Complex.

The Riot-Control Industrial Complex is a small group of weapons manufacturers, which control the market for weapons like pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets and the 40mm chemical round used by the GRPD.

Safariland Group is owned by Warren Sanders, who has built an empire is what is euphemistically referred to as non-lethal weaponry. Sanders has been coming under a great deal of fire in recent years, especially after US Border & Customs agents tear gassed immigrants seeking asylum at the southern US border in 2018

The growth of Safariland Group and other companies in the Riot-Control Industrial Complex, can clearly be attributed to the laws passed in the US after 9/11. According to Anna Feigenbaum’s book Tear Gas, Safariland Group’s CEO, Warren Sanders, joined the board of the Federal Enforcement Homeland Security Foundation FEHSF), which is “a private-public partnership between concerned business leaders and current and former high-ranking federal enforcement officials…..Functioning as a nonprofit, FEHSF gives out financial aid to assist in creating synergy between federal departments for homeland security purposes.”

Law Enforcement agencies, like the GRPD, have become more militarized since 9/11, which allows them to use the kinds of weapons we saw on May 30. Those working on the Defund the GRPD campaign might consider also demanding that the GRPD provide  a complete listing of all the weapons in their arsenal, thus allowing the entire community to see what kind and how much weaponry they have, weaponry they can use against any of us.

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