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Grand Rapids Public Safety Committee adds a member of the Capitalist Class, thus creating a greater firewall against public opposition to policing in this city

May 1, 2022

A few weeks ago, we wrote about what one of the members of the Public Safety Committee had to say about the GRPD murder of Patrick Lyoya. Ed Kettle, who sits on the board of the Public Safety Committee, stated that the cop who shot Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head and killed him, was also a “victim.”

It has now come to our attention, that since the last Public Safety Committee meeting, which took place on April 26, that Marlin Feyen, co-owner and co-founder of the Grand Rapids company Feyen Zylstra, now sits on the Board of Directors of the Public Safety Committee.

The Public Safety Committee Board consists of nine members, 2 residents from each ward and one City Commissioner from each ward. Here is the current Public Safety Committee Board:

  • Commissioner Kurt Reppart
  • Commissioner Joe Jones
  • Commissioner Nathaniel Moody
  • Christine Cameron – 3rd Ward
  • Marlin Feyen – 2nd Ward
  • Ed Kettle – 1st Ward
  • Kyle Lim – 1st Ward
  • 2 vacancies

This means that apart from the 3 City Commissioners, there are three White Board members and 1 Asian American. Christine Cameron is a lawyer and former director of Silent Observer, which has a close relationship with the GRPD, thus pro-cop. Ed Kettle, as we reported, is pro-cop. Kyle Lim, who works with the Urban Core Collective, has demonstrated that he asks critical questions about the GRPD, accountability and transparency. Now, Marlin Feyen, a member of the Capitalist Class, has joined the group.

It is hard to known where Feyen stands on policing in Grand Rapids, on the GRPD murder of Patrick Lyoya and GRPD funding, but we do know that he was appointed by Commissioner Joe Jones. It is also important to note, that in 2017 2nd Ward City Commissioner race, which Jones won, that Feyen contributed $250 to Jones’ campaign. Therefore, it would be reasonable to ask the question of whether or not Jones appointed Feyen to the Public Safety Committee because of his campaign contribution. It is fairly common for larger campaign contributors to then be appointed to political positions at the federal, state and local level. 

In addition, another major factor in considering the social, economic and political position of someone like Marlin Feyen, who is a member of the Capitalist Class in Grand Rapids, that he would likely support a fully funded Grand Rapids Police Department. Members of the Capitalist Class like it when the state provides economic subsidies, such as the $250,000 federal funding for the new Feyen Zylstra innovation center in Walker, MI, but they also like police intervention to not only protect their economic interests, but to maintain social order, which is essential to Capitalist growth. 

Therefore, the Public Safety Committee is fairly stacked in favor of pro-police residents, who would not be supportive of greater scrutiny of the GRPD, nor would they likely support any defunding of the Grand Rapids Police Department. This not only demonstrates the kind of political pandering that has plagued Grand Rapids, it demonstrates how systems of power protect themselves from further public scrutiny. 

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