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GRIID End of the Year in Review: Part II – Monitoring the Far Right in West Michigan

December 20, 2021

In Part I of our End of the Year post, we examined the local commercial news coverage of critical issues in 2021. Today, we want to provide an overview of GRIID reporting on the Far Right in West Michigan.

One element of the Far Right in West Michigan that we wrote about over the past year, is the West Michigan connection to the January 6th insurrection in Washington, DC. The Far Right Think Tank, the Acton Institute, was featured on a TV show in mid-January, essentially blaming the political left for the January 6th insurrection.

In late January, we posted a story about how the co-founders of the American Patriot Council, which had been one of the main anti-lockdown groups in the state, had participated in the January 6th insurrection as well.  Both Jason Howland and Ryan Kelley were caught on camera at the January 6th insurrection in DC, and for sure Howland went into the US Capitol. Ryan Kelley announced just weeks after January 6th insurrection, that he was running for Governor in Michigan.

Just days after Kelley announced his candidacy for Governor, the American Patriot Council posted an article on their blog claiming that the real terrorists in the US are antifa and the Black Lives Matter protesters.

In early April, the Acton Institute condemned anti-racism author Ibram X. Kendi for suggesting that Jesus was a revolutionary, then turned around and stated that a far right darling, Ayn Rand, was someone who was sincere in her search for God.

In early May, the founder (J.C. Huizenga) of the far right for profit Charter School company, the National Heritage Academies, was caught on tape as saying he didn’t know what the term BIPOC was. Equally outrageous was the fact that Huizenga admitted this at a meeting where he is a board member of The Grand Rapids Promise. The Grand Rapids Promise is using foundation money to create opportunities for students to go to college for free.

Beginning in late June, GRIID wrote a 3-part series on the history of the KKK in Grand Rapids. The first piece was about the 1925 parade the Klan held in Grand Rapids, with several thousand marching in the parade.  The second story was about a Klan rally held just South of Grand Rapids at a farm in 1970. A third article took a look at a Klan rally held in front of the court house in downtown Grand Rapids in 1995.

In the second week of July, it was announced that the Proud Boys would be coming to Grand Rapids for a rally, so several groups organized a counter-action, which essentially prevented the Proud Boys from bring their message of hate to Grand Rapids.

In late August, the pro-cop group, Voice for the Badge, was once again posting misinformation on their blog. We critique their commentary, which was claiming that the news media in West Michigan was anti-cop. Not only is this patently false, the local news media often act as a public relations wing of the GRPD.

When schools were getting ready to open again this year, the far right was out in numbers to condemn the school boards, county commissioners and even the Health Department. In fact, the Kent County Health Department had been receiving threats. In September, a group of Republican legislators in Michigan were calling for the Health Department Director to step down or face the consequences. We wrote about those GOP lawmakers and who has been financially backing them for years.

In mid-October, we looked at several far right rallies that were being held in the West Michigan area. These rallies were a mix of the political and religious right, with both rallies being organized by groups that are touring the US. 

In late October, Ryan Kelley’s campaign for Governor released its first political ad. GRIID provides a deconstruction of the ad, which not only critiques Kelley’s platform, it demonstrates that he has a penchant for lying.

In mid-November, we wrote a piece that identifies another pro-cop organization in Grand Rapids, the iCI Nation.

Lastly, in mid-December, we posted a critique of an Acton Institute blog article that was essentially creating a false narrative about Kyle Rittenhouse, also making claims that the justice systems works, since Rittenhouse was found not guilty of murdering 2 people.

There were many more article about the Far Right in West Michigan, but this post provides a useful summary, In Part III of our End of the Year series, we will look at our reporting of the Grand Rapids Power Structure in 2021.

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