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West Michigan Far Right Watch for the week of September 21 – 27: Police apologists, GR officials and Christians who hate Black Lives Matter

September 27, 2020

Welcome to the next installment of West Michigan Far Right Watch, where we keep tabs on the far right in this area and provide a summary of what they are up to and what kind of messages they are promoting in this community.

We have 3 examples to share with you this week. The first example comes to us from a group that made our list last week, Voice For the Badge (VFB). VFB is a citizen group in Grand Rapids that acts as an apologist and cheerleader for the GRPD and cops all around the country. Their leader, Johnny Brann Sr., posted this message on Wednesday, September 23rd, after the Grand Jury in Kentucky found that none of the three cops involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor, were guilty of shooting Taylor:

You worthless animals. Attempted assassination of our police in Louisville ?? Pathetic cowards. This will change. Evil cowards will not win. We won’t let them.

PRAYERS FOR OUR OFFICERS

Johnny Brann Sr.

Voice For The Badge

There are no comments about the injustice of the court’s decision or the fact that Breonna Taylor was shot dead by police while in her bedroom. Instead, VFB choses to omit the facts and then distort the context of the threats against police in Louisville. It is completely understandable that people would be pissed off at the cops for getting yet another free pass for killing a Black person in the US. Frankly, the police should be grateful that they are not received more threats, considering they can murder Black people without any damn consequences.

Our second example of a far right action taken in from the City of Grand Rapids. Now, I know that there are lots of people who consider Grand Rapids to be a liberal/progressive bastion, but last week, Grand Rapids once again displayed their contempt for people (mostly Black) who were protesting against the Grand Jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case.

The City of Grand Rapids went out of their way to send a message to people who were protesting against cops getting off in the Breonna Taylor case. The City set up salt trucks to block vehicle access to the GRPD headquarters, put up other physical barriers and stationed cops in full riot gear in front of the police station, when several hundred people were protesting.

What made this display of state violence even more disgusting, was the fact that earlier in the day (Sept. 23rd), the City released a statement on Facebook about how they too were morning the Grand Jury’s decision in the Breonna Taylor Case. In a further display of contempt for public anger in this case, the City also posted information about an event for September 24, hosted by Mental Health Clinicians of Color, inviting people to morning the court’s decision in the Breonna Taylor case. Now, I fully support the purpose of that event, which provided a safe space for people to talk about and process this grave injustice, but for the City of Grand Rapids to promote such an event, while militarizing downtown Grand Rapids in not only hypocritical, it demonstrates that the only acceptable way to mourn or grieve the police murder of Black people is to do it without ever challenging systems of power.

The last example this week is from a Christian Church that displays hatred toward the LGBTQ community, believes that wearing masks during the pandemic is stupid, and refers to Black Lives Matter as a “Marxist cancer.”

The church we are referring to is The Ridge Covenant Church, located at 4453 Fruit Ridge Avenue NW, in Grand Rapids. The church’s pastor, Andy Parker, posts regular videos in their Facebook page, sometimes wear t-shirt that say Socialism Sucks.

The videos they post promote patriarchal values, along with regular condemnations of people that Pastor Andy calls, “homos and Trannies.” The  church also celebrates faith communities around the country that have been violating social distancing and mask wearing policies, calling the pandemic a hoax.

In addition, a recent video they hosted (shown below), provides a detailed attack against Black people in general, but specifically the Black Lives Matter movement. It is places like The Ridge Covenant Church, which provides helps to create space for White Supremacist values, which often leads to social indifference and outright support for state violence against Black people, and it can lead to individual acts of violence directed at members of the Black community by people who embrace this ideology.

Finally, while it might be easy for people to scoff at the examples provided here of The Ridge Covenant Church and the Voice For the Badge, it is vitally important that both of these groups are primarily ideological foot soldiers for White Supremacy, whereas the actions of the City of Grand Rapids are a clear example of Structural Violence, which in this case is State Violence.

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