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Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association says the video footage of GRPD officers repeated punching a motorist was just fanning the flames of national rage

April 27, 2021

On Monday, the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association (GRPOA) released a statement in response to the critical news coverage of GRPD officers repeatedly punching a man after pulling him out of his car.

The statement by the GRPOA is in many ways a pathetic and desperate attempt to claim that they are the victims of media propaganda. The statement, which you can read here, includes cut and paste headlines about the incident the GRPOA was responding to.

The claim that the news media had already decided what had happened to the person the GRPD pulled out of a car and punched repeatedly. The GRPOA used the phrase, “biasedly slanted against the GRPD” and then went on to say, “in their coverage of a video that was questionably leaked on social media.” 

The GRPOA statement continues to lament the biased coverage and claims that the news media used this incident to fan the flames of national rage in order to get “clicks.” 

What is overwhelmingly missing from the cop union statement is the fact that no where do they offer their version of what took place. In other words, the GRPOA offers no credible evidence or facts that dispute the news media’s biased coverage.

Instead of offering their perspective on what happened, the GRPOA ends their statement with a a thank you to people who in the community that have supported them, along with an appeal to those same community members to contact local elected officials to let them know that they support the GRPD.

It is instructive that the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association makes a point of saying, “we strive to publish our accurate and timely information, highlight our positive stories and help manage our image and brand.” Edward Bernays would be proud of of the GRPOA laying claim to managing their image and brand. 

As for their tirade against the local news media, it is interesting that just since the May 30th uprising, when there has been increased scrutiny of the GRPD, that almost every story about the GRPD has been positive, especially all the fluffy news stories about cops hanging out with kids. It’s as if the GRPOA expects the news media to only report on their behavior in glowing fashion.

What we have been documenting about the GRPOA in recent years, provides a much different perspective, which we list here:

The GRPOA wants people to contact elected officials, but fails to mention that they have given thousands of dollars to local candidates, specifically Mayor Bliss and 1st Ward Commissioner Jon O’Connor. 

In March of 2019, the Command Unit of the GRPOA complained that City officials were too conciliatory towards immigration protestors and that the cops wanted to arrest protesters during the May 1st, 2018 march.

In a July 2019 statement, the GRPOA claimed that they were underfunded, understaffed and that the Stop the Violence rallies did nothing to stop violence.

In August of 2019, the GRPOA Command Unit complained about the 2 day suspension of Captain Kurt VanderKooi, even though he contacted ICE on a Jilmar Ramos Gomez who VanderKooi thought was an undocumented immigrant, when in fact he was a former US Marine.

In July of 2020, the GRPOA contributed to and endorsed the far right Congressional candidate Tom Norton.

In December of 2020, the GRPOA began a campaign to encourage people to call City officials to oppose defunding the GRPD, using both billboards and a website.

In March of 2021, the GRPOA blocked several reform proposals from the Grand Rapids Police Department, specifically the attempt to transfer work from “sworn officers to non-sworn in staff.”

This most recent statement from the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association, is just the latest in a long line of weak attempts to avoid taking responsibility for their behavior, particularly their behavior towards Black and Brown residents in the City of Grand Rapids.

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