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Most of those cited as opposing the Community Owned Safety ballot initiative are the same people who changed the City Charter to increase funding for the GRPD nearly three decades ago

July 31, 2022

On Friday, the group Citizens for Safe Neighborhoods sent out a Media Release, expressing their opposition to the ballot initiative that is being organized by the Coalition for Community Owned Safety. The Coalition for Community Owned Safety is made up of the ACLU of Michigan, Urban Core Collective, NAACP of Greater Grand Rapids, and LINC UP, all non-profits that have been speaking out against the GRPD for the last several years. 

Both MLive and WOOD TV 8, both ran stories on Friday about the Media Release that was sent out by the newly formed group, Citizens for Safe Neighborhoods.

The MLive article cites two people who are against the Coalition for Community Owned Safety ballot initiative, current 3rd Ward City Commissioner Moody and former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. Moody calls the ballot initiative “misleading” and Heartwell uses terms like “dishonest” and “devious.” 

The Channel 8 version of the story use two members of the group Citizens for Safe Neighborhoods, Ed Kettle and David Doyle. The WOOD TV 8 story does acknowledge that Kettle is a political consultant and has had the Grand Rapids Police Officer’s Association as a client in the past. However, both WOODTV8 and MLive fail to mention that Ed Kettle also created the group Friends of GR Cops and that his wife is the current director of Silent Observer, which works hand in hand with the GRPD. 

However, the larger omission in the coverage of this new opposition group, is the fact that Ed Kettle and David Doyle were both part of the effort in 1995 to get two ballot initiatives passed, one to add more cops to the GRPD and the other to change the City’s Charter to mandate that a minimum of 32% of the City’s budget would go to the GRPD. This campaign was known as the Safety 95 Campaign and it was modeled on the 1994 Crime Bill that was adopted by the US Congress and crafted by then Senator Joe Biden. In addition, George Heartwell, who was a 3rd Ward City Commissioner at that time, also supported adding more cops to the GRPD and the mandatory funding levels for the Police Department. This is not a minor oversight, it is information that is as relevant as the creation of the this new opposition group. 

Lastly, the local commercial news media coverage from Friday also failed to mention that Ed Kettle is a current member of the Public Safety Committee, has made condescending remarks about those calling for Defunding the GRPD, and has made some rather racist comments. In a previous incident involving several GRPD officers beating a Black man, Kettle responded by saying about this incident is that the Black man should, “Shut up. Don’t resist and ask for an attorney.” Ed Kettle also made some rather racists comments after the GRPD shot and killed Patrick Lyoya, which we wrote about. Unfortunately, the public does not have this information about the two white men who are behind the Citizens for Safe Neighborhoods group.

Lastly, it is worth mentioning that the channel 8 reporter who interviewed the two white men from the opposition group, as well as a Black woman who is part of the Coalition for Community Owned Safety, the reporter only questioned the Black woman and never challenged the two white men. If the Coalition for Community Owned Safety gets enough signatures to put this issue on the November Ballot, it will be very interesting to see how this will play out and how awful the news media will report on these two groups and their supporters.

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