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The GRPD planned for another riot in the wake of no justice for Breonna Taylor action

September 24, 2020

The Grand Jury did not bring charges against two of the three cops involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor. The third cop was charged with “wanton endangerment” for firing bullets into the apartment building. In the end, the Grand Jury did not charge any of the cops with the murder of Breonna Taylor.

Protests erupted in Louisville and all across the country, once people heard about the court’s decision. One theme that was shared on social media, was that the lack of justice for Breonna Taylor was by design. The legal system, like the prison industrial complex and how policing functions in this country is brutally biased against Black people…….by design. The judicial system isn’t so much corrupt, since they are doing exactly what they were designed to do.

In Grand Rapids, the hometown of Breonna Taylor, family members with the group Justice for Black Lives called for a protest at Rosa Parks Circle. At first, there was a small crowd of maybe 100 people. Breonna’s cousin spoke and expressed a great deal of grief over the court’s decision, but she also expressed a great deal of anger.

Breonna’s cousin said that she was “pissed off” and that she is tired of the businesses in downtown Grand Rapids with Black Lives Matter signs, but when it comes time to demonstrate that sentiment, these same businesses are no where to be seen. “Our family is tired of being fucked with,” said Breonna’s cousin. Her anger permeated her words as she called out numerous institutions and organizations. She then implored people to “take away the money from corporations” and “spend it in the Black community.”

The crowd was then invited to march with the organizers to the Grand Rapids Police headquarters, which had been barricaded once again, just like on May 30th of this year. Large salt trucks blocked the east and west ends of Monroe Center, allowing only a small opening for people to walk through to get to the main entrance of the GRPD.

Again, like on May 30th, GRPD cops were in full riot gear, both in front of the entrance, behind four feet barriers and along Division, preventing people from entering on the east sided along the building.

It was clear that the GRPD were gearing up for another riot, despite the fact that Chief Payne had met and talked with Breonna Taylor’s family earlier in the day. However, the message was clear. The GRPD was saying to the crowd gathered, “we expect you to be  disruptive and possibly violent, so we are going to let you know that even before you march to mourn the court’s decision, we will not tolerate any disruptions and we will meet you with force.”

The organizers led chants and then demanded that Chief Payne come out to kneel with them. This was somewhat confusing to many in the crowd, based on their body language and their hesitancy to take a knee. Why would it matter if the Chief of Police took a knee, especially when he had dozens of cops, in full riot gear, ready to arrest protesters at any moment.

After the police chief took a knee, the organizers asked people to move back to Rosa Parks Circle. However, some of the Justice for Black Lives members lingered and were verbally confronting the cops. This was completely understandable, given the legal decision in the Breonna Taylor case. The cops left the northeast corner, where they had been standing while 200 protesters had gathered in front of the police station. The cops moved south on Division, still being followed by some protesters, when all of a sudden the GRPD grabbed one of the protesters and put him in the police cruiser.

People came around the corner to see what was happening and the police then told people that if they got any closer or walked in the street, that they would be arrested. Within minutes another 60 – 70 people who had gone to Rosa Parks Circle, had come back, now standing on the east side of division, right across from where dozens of cops in riot gear were standing.

Emotions were once again high, as people were angered by the arrest. The crowd began chanting loudly, as more and more cops arrived. Suddenly, the cops in riot gear, crossed the road and were standing right in front of those protesting. For about 15 minutes there was a bit of a standoff, when finally organizers of the march asked people to leave to avoid further confrontation.

On the same day, September 23rd, in 1955, the men who were charged in the brutal murder of Emmett Till were found not guilty by an all white jury in Mississippi. Sixty-five years later, a jury once again decided in favor of White Supremacy, with none of the three police officers found guilty of murdering Breonna Taylor. These two cases are linked, not only because of White violence against Black people or the fact that juries let white people get away with murder. The Emmett Till case played a major role as a catalyst in the Civil Rights Movement, just as Breonna Taylor’s murder is now being a catalyst in the Movement for Black Lives.

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