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iCI Nation: Another Police Apologist group in the Grand Rapids area

November 17, 2021

For the past several years, we have been writing about the pro-police group known as Voice For the Badge (VFB). VFB has been vocally opposed to immigrant justice demands to have the GRPD sever its ties with Immigration, Customs and Enforcement, and since the May 2020 uprising has been an unapologetic defender of the GRPD.

As we have also noted, the GRPD has had tremendous support from Grand Rapids City officials, both on budgetary matters and with a failure to hold them accountable in numerous cases involving GRPD abuse of Black people, along with the ongoing targeting of political activists.

In July, we wrote about a more recent GRPD program called Clergy on Patrol, where faith leaders are invited to participate in GRPD training sessions and ride-alongs. This program has also come under scrutiny by the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists, since it clearly violates Church and State separation.

Then in October, several clergy participated in a so-called Unity Walk with the GRPD. In the aftermath of that event, we discovered that there is another pro-police group in the Grand Rapids area, one that has been around longer than Voice For the Badge.

The group is known as iCI Nation, and the only reason we found out about them, was the fact that they produced a video about the so-called Unity Walk in October. iCI Nation claims that it’s mission is, “to provide a healthy environment for the Community to build trust with law enforcement.” Part of the reason why we have not heard about them until recently, has to do with the fact that they do not have leadership that seeks attention, unlike Johnny Brann Sr. (with VFB), plus they primarily do behind the scenes work.

The founder and leader of iCI Nation is Jennifer Franson, which according to her Linkedin page, she has been the leader since 2015. There have been a few articles about iCI Nation in the mainstream press, but these articles are less political in that the iCI Nation has primarily engaged in appreciation work with local law enforcement.

iCI Nation has four community partners listed on their website, Marge’s Doughnut Den, Urban Family Ministries, DLS Servicing Consultants LLC, and PeaceWalker. PeaceWalker is run by a guy who does self-defense training, but combines a strange sort of patriotism with his work. Urban Family Ministries has on its staff, Elijah Libbett, who has also had a very public relationship with VFB leader, Johnny Brann Sr. Libbett  participated in Unity Rally in July of 2020, which was really an All Lives Matter rally.  DLS Servicing Consultants LLC, is owned by Donna Schmidt, who also is the Treasurer for iCI Nation. 

While iCI Nation is not as visible as Voice For the Badge, make no mistake about it, they are a committed to defending local cops, no matter how often the local police harass, intimidate and target Black and Brown communities, along with activists who are calling for defunding. 

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