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The only time the Mayor of Grand Rapids has called for a State of Emergency was to protect property, never to stop police violence against the Black Community

June 2, 2022

Two years ago today, the Grand Rapids City Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt a resolution to protect the business interests in downtown Grand Rapids and to criminalize those protesting against the policing of BIPOC people.

On June 2nd, 2020, here is what the Grand Rapids City Commission adopted:

WHEREAS: 1. Ongoing unlawful assembly and civil disorder beginning on May 30, 2020 has result in property damage and imminent threats of substantial harm to our community; and 

2. To date the City of Grand Rapids has taken numerous actions to respond and protect against this threat; and 

3. On May 31, 2020 Mayor Rosalynn Bliss issued a 48-hour Proclamation of State of Civil Emergency to Further Protect Public Health and Safety; and 37 CITY COMMISSION JUNE 2, 2020 

4. Pursuant to Chapter 161 of the City Code of Ordinances, a state of civil emergency may be extended by resolution of the City Commission for such additional periods of time as determined necessary. 

RESOLVED: 1. That the City Commission deems it reasonable and necessary to continue the state of civil emergency in order to continue the use of emergency powers in order to expand and expedite response and resources. 

2. That the state of civil emergency shall continue until 11:59 pm June 16, 2020 or until a proclamation by the Mayor that a state of civil emergency no longer exists, whichever occurs first; provided, however, that such state of civil emergency may be extended for such additional periods of time as determined necessary by further resolution of the City Commission. 

3. That this resolution continues any and all authority delegated to the Mayor by any and all emergency management, public health and other pertinent laws to issue any and all oral and written directives that the Mayor, upon the advice of public safety and health and other expert officials, reasonably deem necessary to respond to and protect our community. 

Notice that the language that Grand Rapids City Officials used, such as imminent threats, unlawful assembly and State of Emergency. All of this language and this resolution fail to acknowledge that the thousands of residents of Grand Rapids who participated in the May 30th, 2020 uprising never harmed another individual. Yes there was property damage, but the only people who were injured that night were injured by the GRPD and the other are police departments that were deployed to put down the uprising. 

It is worth noting that the Mayor of Grand Rapids had called for a State of Emergency on May 31st, 2020, because some property was being damaged, yet whenever the lives of Black residents or other BIPOC people are being treated, the Mayor of Grand Rapids is not issuing a State of Emergency. In fact, since 2017, here are some of the instances where the community was calling for a State of Emergency and calling out Grand Rapids City Officials and the GRPD for their role in perpetuating violence and practicing White Supremacist practices against BIPOC people.

April of 2017, after the GRPD pointed their guns at several Black youth, City Officials and the GRPD failed to listen to the demands of the community.

May 2017, the Black community calls on the City Commission to declare a State of Emergency because of the recent incidents of GRPD harassment, intimidation, arrests and violence directed at Black people.

In December of 2017, the GRPD points a firearm at 11 year old Honestie Hodges with no consequences.

In February of 2018, the GRPD showed up to a Press Conference that was organized by Movimiento Cosecha GR to denounce the GRPD’s treatment of protestors during a January action in downtown Grand Rapids.

February 26th, 2019, activist groups demand that the City Commission fire GRPD officer VanderKooi for calling ICE on former US Marine Jilmar Ramos Gomez.

March 19, 2019, GRPD detain two Latino youth at gunpoint for walking in the street. Police Chief says they should have obeyed police commands.

March 26, 2019, a Coalition of Grassroots groups hold press conference to denounce GRPD’s treatment of Black residents and immigrants.

March 29, 2019, dozens of Grand Rapids residents share negative experiences they have had with the GRPD during a Michigan Civil Rights Department Public Hearing.

July of 2020, thousands of people demand a reduction of funding for the GRPD to the 32% City Charter mandated minimum. Three Grand Rapids City Commissioners attempted to proposed such a reduction, but the City Manager and City Attorney stop it from happening.

April of 2021, viral video of GRPD cops repeatedly punching a Black motorist results in no consequences against the police involved.

In May of 2021, a Black man who was on his way to attend the funeral of a family member was falsely identified by the GRPD, then arrested for not obeying the cops.

September of 2021, the GRPD falsely arrests Black man outside of a McDonalds restaurant, holding him at gunpoint, then arresting him. There were no actions taken against the GRPD by the Grand Rapids City Commission.

April 4, 2022, GRPD Officer Christopher Schurr, shoots Patrick Lyoya in the back of the head, resulting in his death. There have still been no actions against the cop who killed Patrick Lyoya.

During the past two years, the community has made numerous demands of the City of Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Police Department. None of those demands have been met. At the same time, the Grand Rapids City Commission has unanimously approved the City Budgets for 2022 and 2023, despite thousands of residents calling for defunding of the GRPD. 

Since 2017, under the leadership of Mayor Bliss, the City of Grand Rapids has repeatedly ignored the community cries for justice and for holding the GRPD accountable for racist policing against the BIPOC community. The only time that Mayor Bliss has called for a State of Emergency since 2017, was in order to protect the property and business interests during the May 30th uprising. The Mayor of Grand Rapids has not once called for a State of Emergency nor an end to the War on Black people. Profits and property over people, is the legacy of the current Mayor.

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