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Members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure and their associates sign on to letter endorsing the ordinance proposal that would criminalize the unhoused

December 12, 2022

Another letter from “community leaders” is asking Grand Rapids City officials to adopt the proposed ordinance put forth by the GR Chamber of Commerce, which was presented to the GR City Commission last Tuesday, which GRIID wrote about

This week there is a new letter included in the City Commission Agenda Packet (pages 44 – 50), a letter that is signed by 120 people.  Half way through the letter, the only bolded text reads: 

We request that you adopt an ordinance to regulate appropriate access and use of the public right of way and solicitation. 

This new letter clearly endorses and demonstrates that those with considerable political and economic power are behind the GR Chamber’s ordinance proposal.

However, the letter does include language similar to the Chamber’s communication to the city, suggesting they do not want to criminalize the unhoused. As we wrote previously about the language of the GR Chamber’s letter, the proposed ordinance would limit the mobility of people, where they will NOT be allowed to go, plus it will result in fines and/or likely jail times, as most people this ordinance will impact will not be able to afford the cost of the fines.

List of those who signed

As mentioned earlier, there were 120 people who signed on to the most recent letter, which is part of the City Commission’s Agenda Packet for Tuesday, December 13. However, a closer look reveals that the majority of the people who signed are either members of the Grand Rapids Power Structure, are associates of the GR Power Structure, or they have an organization affiliation with the most powerful people in this city.

For instance, there are only 3 DeVos family members who have signed on to the letter, but 13 other people who run one of the entities that the DeVos directly controls. Then there are at least 18 other people who have a direct connection to the DeVos family, primarily through groups like the GR Chamber of Commerce, the West Michigan Policy Forum and the Right Place Inc, which are all part of the GR Power Structure

The bulk of the rest of the signatories are people who either own businesses or property in downtown Grand Rapids, along with a handful of people who actually live downtown.

As we wrote last week, “This new letter from the GR Chamber of Commerce demonstrates once again that their primary goal is to protect the interests of members of the Capitalist Class – making downtown safe for commerce and tourists, which always results in punishing those who threaten those interests.” In addition, it should be noted that many of the people who are signatories to the newest letter are people who make significant contributions to the Republican Party, which zealously supports the interests of the Capitalist Class. In addition, many of these same signatories are also connected to the GR Chamber of Commerce and the West Michigan Policy Forum, which have actively opposed raising the minimum wage, have worked to get business taxes and taxation of the rich reduced, actively work to undermine worker associations and labor unions, plus many of them supported Michigan becoming a Right to Work state in 2012. In short, this class of people has aggressively worked to create a wealth gap, to perpetuate poverty and to create market dynamics in Grand Rapids that has made the cost of living impossible for thousands. 

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