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There is more than one reason why the Kent County Prosecutor should recuse himself in the case of the GRPD killing of Patrick Lyoya

May 22, 2022

For weeks now, there have been calls from the community for the Kent County Prosecutor, Chris Becker, to recuse himself from the case involving the GRPD killing of Patrick Lyoya.

The main issue surrounding the community’s demand that Becker recuse himself from this case has to do with the fact that he has directly received campaign contributions from the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association PAC, which is the union that represents the cops in the GRPD. The GRPD union contributed $1,000 to Becker’s campaign in 2016, according to the campaign finance records found online.

However, the GRPD police union is not the only law enforcement entity to contribute to Becker’s campaign over the years. Former Kent Count Sheriff Larry Stelma and current Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young have both made contributions. In addition, there was a $1000 contribution in 2016 from the Kent County Sheriff Law Enforcement (How it was listed on the campaign finance document), which I can only conclude is the Sheriff’s Department union.

Equally important are the contributions that Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker has received from the legal system. Looking at the records for the past two election cycles, Becker has received campaign contributions from at least 30 different lawyers, with several of them connected to the Kent County Prosecutor’s office, along with 6 current or retired judges.

Then there are the contributions from member of the Grand Rapids Power Structure over the past two election cycles.

2016 Election

  • J.C. Huizenga $500
  • Peter Secchia $2,500
  • Steven Van Andel $500
  • Cheri DeVos $1,000
  • Dan DeVos $1,000
  • Pam DeVos $1,000
  • Dick DeVos $1,000
  • Betsy DeVos $1,000
  • Richard DeVos $1,000
  • Helen DeVos $1,000
  • Doug DeVos $1,000
  • Maria DeVos $1,000

2020 Election

  • Cheri DeVos $4,000
  • Dick DeVos $2,000
  • Dan DeVos $2,000
  • Doug & Maria DeVos $4,000
  • Pam DeVos $2,000

The DeVos family alone contributed $23,000 to Becker, which is small change for them, but it still makes their family the single largest contributor to Becker’s campaign. There is one point about the contributions in 2020, which I believe to be relevant as well, as it speaks to the longterm interests of Billionaires like the DeVos family. 

You can see that the amount of money given by each DeVos family member increased from 2016 to 2020. Richard & Helen did not contribute that year, since both of them had died before then. In looking at the contributions from the DeVos family in 2020, all of those contributions were made on July 10th, 2020. Why is that important? Well, it was only six weeks after the riot/uprising in Grand Rapids because of the police murder of George Floyd. It is my contention that Becker received an increase in campaign funds from the most power family in Grand Rapids, just weeks after the riot/uprising, since the DeVos family knew that Becker would be prosecuting people arrested during the riot/uprising. 

The DeVos family has all of their foundation offices, their financial investment firm, RDV Corp, Windquest and the Reserve Bar and the slew of hotels they own, all of which are located in downtown Grand Rapids. The Capitalist Class has vested interests that must be protected by the state and Becker has not disappointed in the cases he presided over around property destruction during the riot/uprising of 2020. 

Yes, it is deeply problematic at that the Kent County Prosecutor has not recused himself in the GRPD killing of Patrick Lyoya, especially since Becker received $1,000 from the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association PAC. This alone is a solid reason for Becker to recuse himself. However, it is equally troubling that Becker has relied on the DeVos family to get elected to the Prosecutor’s Office, and that their contributions increased after their investments were threatened by protestors in 2020. I can’t help but believe that the DeVos family continues to have conversations with Grand Rapids and Kent County Elected officials over the potential threat to their downtown interests in the aftermath of the GRPD murder of Patrick Lyoya. After all, this is how systems of power function. 

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