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GRIID Year in Review Part II – Monitoring the Far Right in West Michigan

December 19, 2022

Yesterday, we began our annual year in review series with a look at our work with monitoring local news coverage of critical issues, which was Part I in this series. Today, we will take a look at our coverage of the Far Right in West Michigan in 2022.

When we use the term Far Right, we are not simply referring to extremist groups like the Proud Boys (although they would fall under this category), we are referring to organizations and institutions that embrace and perpetuate policies and practices that push the envelope on issues like White Supremacy, heterosexism, transphobia, patriarchy, and xenophobia. Granted, some of the stories we look at below, could fall under multiple categories, but for our purposes today we are identifying them as Far Right.

Within the past year it is hard to go a week without the dominant news media reporting on the January 6th attempted insurrection. However, local news agencies haven’t reported much on that issues, except for some coverage around the 1st anniversary of January 6th. 

On January 4th, GRIID posted a piece that discussed the importance of having a critical lens when it came to the one year anniversary of the attempted insurrection, which also included a critique of a Catholic TV show that interviewed Fr. Robert Sirico, founder of the Grand Rapids-based Action Institute, where he was discussing the January 6th insurrection. A few days later we wrote a piece about the PBS documentary on the January 6th attempted insurrection, which left out any critical information about the West Michigan connection to that insurrection. Lastly, this issue was reported on briefly in June, after Michigan Gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley (from Allendale) was arrested by the FBI for his role in the January 6th attack on the US Capitol. 

There were also some article we posted that continued our two-decade critique of the Far Right Think Tank, the Acton Institute, based here in Grand Rapids. In January, they posted an article that once again demonized the national movement of Black Lives Matter. Then in March, the Acton Institute continued its assault against people who identify as trans, which they have consistently done for years.  

There were also a couple of stand alone piece that GRIID wrote during the year, having to do with the Far Right in this area. One article had to do with the major contributions from the Van Andel family to the Far Right school in Michigan, Hillsdale College. Another article was about a church just north of Grand Rapids, which bragged about building their own armory back in April. The other stand alone article was just after the shooting in Colorado in November, where a gunman shot and killed several people, along with wounding others who were part of the LGBTQ community. One queer group spray painted a message at the compound of the group Focus on the Family, which has received millions of dollars of funding from the DeVos family and has created an anti-LGBTQ climate across the country. 

However, the big far right story of the year was the US Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v Wade. GRIID wrote a piece about the history of the reproductive justice movement in Grand Rapids, then followed it with a piece looking at what we called the anti-abortion cartel in West Michigan in May. After that we posted several stories focusing on people or organizations in West Michigan that have contributed to the criminalization of abortion, some for more than forty years. Each of these stories came with a Wanted Poster for the family or organization that funded and supported the criminalization of abortion, with links to each of those postings/Wanted posters below.

In Part III, we will take a look at article we did in 2022 that shinned the light on the Grand Rapids Power Structure.

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