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Reactions and responses to the news that GRPD cop Christopher Schurr is being charged with second-degree murder

June 10, 2022

There must have been thousands of people tuning in to Prosecutor Chris Becker’s announcement yesterday, where he charged GRPD Officer Christopher Schurr with second-degree murder. 

As soon as the Kent County Prosecutor made his announcement, social media was blowing up, with posts from local, state and national news sources. In addition, there were tons of individual commentary, along with some Grand Rapids-based organizations weighing in.

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said he charged Christopher Schurr with second-degree murder, because that was the only conclusion to make based on the evidence from the investigation. However, it seems to this writer that there were probably other factors that played in to Becker’s decision. First, Becker was receiving a ton of pressure to recuse himself because of his acceptance of Police Union campaign contributions. Thousands of electronic messages were sent to Becker’s office making that demand. In addition, we know that Becker also received $23,000 in campaign contributions from the DeVos family over the past two election cycles. It would not be a stretch to think that one of the wealthiest families in West Michigan, which has numerous offices, a restaurant and several hotels in downtown Grand Rapids, would encourage Becker to charge Schurr with murder, so as to avoid another riot, this putting their property at risk. This is of course speculation, but the DeVos family doesn’t make that kind of contribution to political candidates without being able to call in a favor or influence their decisions. 

Peter Lyoya, the father of Patrick Lyoya, after hearing the announcement of second-degree murder charges being brought up against Officer Christopher Schurr, stated, “it brings a little bit of consolation to our family.” This is probably the most important reaction from yesterday’s news.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss stated,I do want to say that I appreciate all of those who have respected the time need to complete a comprehensive investigation.” This was the Mayor’s backhanded way of saying that she doesn’t appreciate the more than 150 thousand electronic messages making immediate demands, the boots on the ground protests and the pressure she and the rest of the City Commission was receiving over the past two months. Bliss also recognized, “the staff, officers and leadership of the GRPD and the role they play in our community.” This is the Mayor letting the cops know that she is 100% behind them. This would not surprise those who have known that Bliss has received $3,000 in campaign contributions from the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association PAC during her political career.

City Manager Mark Washingtonsays he is committed to more de-escalation training for the GRPD. Maybe the most meaningless statement of the Press Conference.

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom, said that he plans to submit a letter to the city manager recommending that Grand Rapids police officer Christopher Schurr be suspended without pay and terminated. This is important, but this has been one of the demands from the community since Patrick Lyoya was killed by Officer Christopher Schurr. Chief Winstrom is merely doing what the public has been demanding for more than two months.

Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack stated during a Press Conference that he believes that the decision from the Kent County Prosecutor proves that the system can work and that “young activists should refrain from burning down buildings and throwing bricks.” 

Local NAACP President Cle Jackson, not to be outdone by comments from Commissioner Womack, also stated, “It’s fine to protest, but it has to be peaceful. It has to be strategic. We will never win the war on the streets.” Why is it that people from establishment organizations feel the need to police those in the streets and tell them how to protest? 

Attorney General Dana Nessel – “At the Department of Attorney General, we understand the exceptional resources needed to evaluate police-involved shooting deaths and I commend Prosecutor Becker, his team and the Michigan State Police for the exhaustive review conducted these last two months. We must now respect the judicial process and allow the facts of the case to be presented in court.” Nessel thanks the police and puts her faith in the judicial system. Instructive.

Michigan State Senator Winnie BrinksSince this shooting, I have listened to people across the district, parents worried about the world their children are growing up in, and communities who feel their concerns are not being heard. Patrick’s family left a country of violence and corruption yet walked into one where he was shot in the back of the head in someone’s front yard. We cannot accept this violence as a normal way of life. When our laws don’t protect everyone, they must change. I will continue to work to ensure Patrick’s is not another life lost in vain. Everyone in every community deserves to have the peace of mind that, regardless of who they are or the color of their skin, they will receive fair and equal treatment by our police.Such a statement fails to recognize the origins of policing in the US and the harsh fact that BIPOC communities, working class people and political dissidents have never been treated equally by the police.

The Black-led resistance to the GRPD murder of Patrick Lyoya, while in the streets last night made it very clear that the Kent County Prosecutor’s decision to charge Officer Christopher Schurr with murder is only the first step to achieving justice for the Lyoya family. Black organizers publicly committed to continuing the resist the way that the GRPD polices BIPOC communities and the continued intimidation, harassment and arrest of activists who are demanding justice for Patrick Lyoya. 

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