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Grand Rapids plans to evict those at the Heartside encampment by Monday

December 19, 2020

In the midst of this pandemic, which has caused people to be unemployed, food insecure, loss of health insurance and unstable housing, the response from the City of Grand Rapids has been to evict people from the encampment in the Heartside district, just south of the downtown area.

The City is “offering” temporary housing in the Purple East building, which is right across from the encampment, but many people are concerned about being in an enclosed space an contracting the COVID virus. According to one of the solidarity organizers I spoke with, many people would prefer to stay at the outdoor encampment, than risk exposure to COVID.

The eviction notice, shown here on the right, is what the City posted at the encampment on Friday, which says that people needed to be gone from that space no later than Monday afternoon or face possible arrest.

This response by the City is not only cruel an cold-hearted, it demonstrates once again that City officials are willing to use state violence (the GRPD) to deal with people they consider to be both disobedient and disposable.

While I was speaking with one of the solidarity organizers, I saw to large white men whom I have seen at Movimiento Cosecha protests, men we believe to be undercover cops. They were talking with some of the people who were part of the encampment and then left.

Shortly after this incident, two GRPD uniformed officers were walking through the encampment towards the south end, when they approached a Black woman. Within minutes the cops then began to cuff this woman. One of the solidarity organizers began to film the arrest and another person began questioning why the cops were arresting this woman. The woman being arrested said she believed that she was being arrested because she had contacted the Health Department to make a formal complaint about the unsanitary conditions of Mel Trotter Ministries.

As of right now, this is what the people at the encampment, both those who are living there and those who are providing support and solidarity, are asking of the larger community:

  • They are in need of boots, gloves, men’s pants, but not other kinds of clothing items.
  • They welcome most foods, especially something hot to eat, along with medicines or people with medical training to help with diagnostic work.
  • They also need people to pressure City officials to NOT evict people who want to stay at the encampment, as well as people who can come either Sunday night or Monday before the City of Grand Rapids sends the GRPD to forcible remove people who want to remain at the encampment.

If you are able to take action on any of these items, please do so and let others know about what is happening!

 

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