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What is the City of Grand Rapids hiding, and what are they so afraid of?

August 21, 2022

On Thursday, MLive reported that the City of Grand Rapids is asking a judge to throw out the racial discrimination charges brought by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR).

The charges from the MDCR office was filed in late July of this year, charges directed at the Grand Rapids Police Department, that they unlawfully discriminated against the claimants by treating them unequally based on race. 

The charges filed were in response to two complaints of discrimination by the GRPD, which are listed on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights website for July 25th. The two complaints are as follows:

Complaint 610406, filed by Melissa Mason, was in response to a traffic stop on January 20, 2020. Officers of the GRPD stopped Mason, who is Black and was driving with three children, for an expired plate. Even though Mason was compliant with officers, she was removed from her car, handcuffed and placed under arrest in a police cruiser for approximately 20 minutes. In response to the investigation, GRPD was unable to demonstrate that people of another race in similar situations were treated the same as Melissa Mason. 

Complaint 485609 was filed by Whitney Hodges on behalf of her minor daughter Honestie Hodges, who is now deceased. The complaint alleged unequal treatment by GRPD of 11-year-old Honestie, who was Black, while police were in pursuit of a middle-aged White woman who matched the description of an attempted murder suspect on December 6, 2017.  Officers pointed their weapons at Honestie and others as they exited a house under surveillance and placed her in handcuffs in a GRPD cruiser. As in the previously described complaint, GRPD was unable to show evidence that individuals of another race were treated the same in similar circumstances.

The MLive article from last Thursday also stated, “Grand Rapids officials declined to comment for the story, citing the ongoing case. The city also denied a request by MLive/The Grand Rapids Press to review copies of the city’s filings requesting the charges be dismissed.” 

At this point is seems fair to ask, what is it that the City of Grand Rapids is hiding on these two cases? If the City wants the charges dismissed, with a possible claim that no discrimination occurred based on race, then the City of Grand Rapids has nothing to hide. If the GRPD did not engage in discrimination based on race, then let the case move forward. If the courts determine there was no discrimination based on race, then the City of Grand Rapids and the GRPD will be vindicated.

However, it also could be that the City of Grand Rapids does not want these complaints to get any further traction. If the courts can prove that discrimination based on race did occur, then the City of Grand Rapids will likely have to pay fines or pay those who made the complaints. 

The City of Grand Rapids would love to avoid further attention being drawn to the racist practices of the GRPD, especially since there will soon be a trial for former GRPD Officer Christopher Schurr, who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya in early April. 

If these two complaints that the Michigan Department of Civil Rights has filled against the City of Grand Rapids were to proceed and discrimination based on race were to be found true, it would not work in favor of the image the City of Grand Rapids hopes to maintain. 

The City of Grand Rapids has been under a great deal of community-based pressure to defund the Grand Rapids Police Department, ever since the May 30th uprising that took place in downtown Grand Rapids. In addition, the City of Grand Rapids has been harassing, monitoring and arresting numerous activist/organizers who have been demanding the defunding of the GRPD. The repressive tactics of the GRPD directed at activists/organizers has only escalated since the GRPD murdered Patrick Lyoya. 

This is the current political backdrop that the City of Grand Rapids is facing, thus if the  Michigan Department of Civil Rights complaints against the GRPD that discrimination based on race did occur, it would only damage the image of the City and it’s Police Department. Imagine all of the Public Relations damage control that would have to be done by the City of Grand Rapids if these cases did determine that there was race based discrimination. This would surely hurt the considerable efforts by the City of Grand Rapids to claim that it is a “Great place to raise a family.” Maybe a new campaign could be created for GR, specifically to attract tourists to come and make the city a destination City. How about, Grand Rapids is Beer City……and a White City! Another campaign slogan to get white people to come to GR could be, Don’t Worry, We’ll Keep the Black people in line…….or else!

Lastly, for the City of Grand Rapids, they are praying that the judge will dismiss the two complaints filed by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights for the reasons we have already state, but there is one more important reason. The MDCR is still investigating 26 additional cases of discrimination complaints against the GRPD. All of these cases would be detrimental to the GRPD, the City of Grand Rapids, and their ongoing efforts to con the outside world that it is a great destination city. 

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