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Thoughts & Prayers: Don’t be fooled by safe responses from Elected Officials on the GRPD murder of Patrick Lyoya

April 14, 2022

Earlier this week, we posted an article about how only 1 politician out of the 47 who has received the letter with demands from the parents of Patrick Lyoya, had taken a public stance against the GRPD killing of Patrick. 

However, in the past few days there have been government officials who have released public statements or who have responded to the now 173,000 letters that have been sent.

The responses that I have seen, however, are not exactly the kind of responses the family of Patrick Lyoya and the larger community had hoped for. The responses tend to acknowledge the loss of life and share sympathy for Patrick’s family, but they avoid saying anything about the fact that a GRPD cop shot Patrick in the back of the head. Here is an example from State Senator Winnie Brinks:

“I am outraged and heartbroken by the death of Patrick Lyoya, who was fatally shot by police last week. I extend my deepest condolences to his family as they grapple with this tragic loss, and join our community in mourning him.  

“Our community is rightfully demanding an accurate and full investigation. I urge all involved to proceed transparently and with sensitivity to the urgency and pain our community is feeling.

“I have been in touch with local faith leaders and others to offer my support and will continue to stay in contact with them as we work through this together. 

“Finally, we must work toward effective public safety that serves everyone in our communities so tragedies like these do not continue to happen.”

Again, this statement doesn’t name what the GRPD cop did to Patrick, thus it sanitizes the “tragic loss.” In addition, talking to local faith leaders instead of the BIPOC activists that have been leading the police accountability and Defund the GRPD efforts over the last two years, simply demonstrates that Senator Brinks is unaware of which groups have been putting the structural violence and systemic racism of the GRPD front and center for the past two years or she does value talking to them. Lastly, ending with a comment about “effective public safety,” is just code for supporting the police. In fact, it is more than just code, since Senator Brinks, like many other politicians in Michigan, have received funding from police unions.

In the summer of 2020, we wrote an article that pointed out Grand Rapids-based political candidates, which had received funding from the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association. Winnie Brinks is on that list, having received funds numerous times since 2014, totaling several thousand from the Grand Rapids Police Union. 

There is also the group No More Cop Money, which tracks police union funding across the US. Here is a link to amount of money provided to state candidates in Michigan.  You can see that the police union funding is equally distributed across partisan lines, which is why police funding and police support is difficult to challenge, since it a bipartisan reality.

If you are receiving responses from elected officials who have been included in the Action Network letter from over 173,000 people, think before you like it, since it is impossible for politicians to really care about the GRPD murder of Patrick Lyoya, especially when they are either receiving political contributions from police unions, and/or they are voting for increased funding for cops in Michigan.

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