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The GRPD once again demonstrates that they can wrongfully arrest Black people with impunity

September 8, 2021

I’m sure that most people have seen the viral video of the GRPD wrongfully arresting a Black man in the parking lot of a McDonalds a few days ago.

You can watch a 7 minute and 42 second video at this link, and learn that the Black man that the GRPD arrested was an employee of McDonalds who had been at the fast food restaurant for 2 hours prior to his arrest.

The GRPD was looking for a Black man who was the suspect in a robbery and said that the Black man they detained “fit the description.” However, if you listen to the video, the person who filmed the incident and several other kept telling the GRPD that this Black man had been at the McDonalds on Division, near Hall street, for the past 2 hours.

Despite the fact that several witnesses could vouch for the Black man, the GRPD ignored what they were being told. On top of that, there were several cops who had drawn their guns and were holding this Black man at gun point for several minutes before they put him in cuffs. 

Even though this Black man was innocent, they still arrested him and took him to the Kent County jail, because this Black man did not “cooperate” with the GRPD and was “resisting arrest.” 

The Grand Rapids Police Department released the following statement in the wake of the incident:

“GRPD responded to a call of a burglary in progress at a neighboring building. While checking the area officers observed a subject matching the suspect description. Contact was made and the subject was not cooperative, which resulted in his arrest. The investigation is ongoing. We understand that sometimes bystanders may be upset or concerned about a police contact, but that is not the time to engage or interfere with the officers. That could easily lead to someone getting hurt. GRPD officers will always listen to those who have information in order to ensure appropriate action is taken, but only once the scene is safe.”

This statement was released by the GRPD in order to justify their actions, in the same fashion as they did in May, when the GRPD arrest another Black man who “fit the description”, even though this Black man was on his way to the funeral of a family member. In that instance, the GRPD statement read:

“The GRPD continues to be dedicated to transparency and accountability regarding police operations, particularly when it comes to using force. When it is appropriate, and allowable under law, we are committed to providing full context to our encounters and answering the community’s questions and concerns.”

Ultimately, this means that the GRPD:

  • Wrongfully arrested another Black man.
  • Traumatized another Black man, and likely the people who witnessed what happened.
  • Alienated those who witnessed what had happened, thus making a mockery of their claim to build trust in the community.
  • Will hide behind what is allowable under the law, because the cops can do pretty much whatever they want with no real consequences.
  • Act with impunity, since GR City officials continue to demonstrate that they believe that the GRPD is valuable entity in the city.

If you listen to the video, the Black person who filmed what happened made it very clear when they said, “the GRPD is racist…..and they don’t give a fuck about us.” This is an honest assessment and the most valuable lessen we all need to learn from this incident. Those of us who identify as white and claim to want to be an ally in the Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids should be following the pages of Justice For Black Lives and Defund the GRPD, educating ourselves, then taking action in ways that support these Black-led groups in Grand Rapids.

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