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DeVos political operative Greg McNeilly on defunding police in Michigan

July 20, 2020

Last week, the chairman of the Michigan Freedom Fund and DeVos family political operative, Greg McNeilly, wrote an opinion piece in the Detroit News entitled, This election, know candidates’ stance on defunding police

The article by McNeilly is less about the issue of Defunding Police and more about where candidates stand on the issue of Defunding the Police in the upcoming August Primary.

McNeilly demonstrates his own lack of understanding on the issue, by making overly simplistic comments, as well as presenting misinformation. McNeilly calls the killing of George Floyd “horrific,” but fails to mention that Floyd was murdered by a cop.

The DeVos family operative goes on to say that the protests have been necessary (although I doubt that he has participated in any of them), and then goes on to say:

“So has the selfless and genuine response of the overwhelming majority of Michigan’s remarkable law enforcement officers.”

McNeilly then gives examples of calls across the state to Defund the Police, using Grand Rapids as one example. However, McNeilly uses the claim made by the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association, when talking about how the proposed cut to the GRPD budget might impact policing in Grand Rapids. McNeilly makes this statement as fact, without noting the source or substantiating the validity of the cop union in Grand Rapids

McNeilly then makes an even more outlandish claim by saying that “violent criminals have spoken out too,” on the matter of defunding police. The Chairman of the Michigan Freedom Fund makes the claim that violent crime is up across the US, leaving us all to think that the idea of defunding the police is a terrible idea.

McNeilly brings the issue back to where candidates stand on this issue, even though he offers no insight into the matter. While I agree it is important that people know where candidates stand on the issue of defunding the police, McNeilly ignores another important component of this issue, which is candidates who get money from police unions.

We reported on the issue of cop unions and political candidates in late June, with an important link to the data provided by the group No More Cop Money

On the matter of political candidates and where they stand on defunding of police, lets take a look at candidate races in the Grand Rapids area for state legislature. We looked at candidate websites or candidate Facebook pages.

72nd State House

  • Dem. Lily Cheng-Schulting – no position on defunding police 
  • Rep. Steven Johnson – no position on defunding police 

73rd State House

75th State House

  • Dem. David LaGrand – no position on defunding police 
  • Rep. James McKeiver – no position on defunding police

76th State House

77th State House

  • Dem. Bob Smith – no position on defunding police 
  • Rep. Tommy Brann – no position on defunding police 

86th State House

As you can see from this sample of candidates from the greater Grand Rapids area, only one had a position on defunding police and they were against it. Most candidates are playing it safe and not taking a position, but if they took a public position in support of defunding police, it would signal a first step in their commitment to the demands of the Movement for Black Lives.

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