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Another video of GRPD Chief Winstrom dismissing people who challenge policing in Grand Rapids

May 26, 2023

A video interview that MLive did with Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom on March 7th of this year, has been circulating on social media quite a bit during the past week. This is primarily because activists who have been critical of the GRPD have shared it on various social media platforms.

The 2 minutes and 11 second video that MLive posted on March 7th, simply features Chief Winstrom talking about how there are loud people who come to City Commission meetings just to get attention. Winstrom claims that people are at City Commission meetings just to insult Grand Rapids City officials, which is just not the case. Sure, some people might be a bit snarky, but the people who have been coming to City Commission meetings are there because they have an important critique about policing in Grand Rapids and because they have a deep commitment to issues like racial equality and housing justice.

Chief Winstrom goes on to say that he asks those who challenge Grand Rapids City policies, particularly how the GRPD function, if they want to talk. Winstrom says they don’t want to talk they just want to get on TV and that that is their end goal.

In fact, the rest of the video Winstrom essentially wants to convince those who watch this unedited, unfiltered video from MLive, that there is a small minority of people who are unreasonable, just want to get more social media clicks and have no policy suggestions. Clearly Chief Winstrom wants to marginalize these activists who have been calling for the Defunding of the GRPD since June of 2020, just weeks after the uprising in Grand Rapids. But the fact that he says that “these people” have no policy suggestions is ridiculous. Here are just a few things activists have been saying since June of 2020:

  • Calling for a reduction of the GRPD Budget to the 33% of the City’s Budget, as was adopted in the 1995 Grand Rapids City Charter Change.
  • Once the GRPD budget is reduced it should be redirected to issues like housing, health care, education, particularly in communities most impacted by policing, specifically Black and Latinx communities, which was presented in April of 2021.
  • Activists demanded that Federal Funds that came to Kent County NOT be spent on the ShotSpotter technology for the GRPD, a campaign that they won.
  • Activists have denounced the use of the GRPD to harass, intimidate and clear out unhoused encampments, like the encampment that the GRPD shut down at the Heartside Park.
  • Activists have demanded that the City of Grand Rapids stop targeting BIPOC organizers who have been publicly challenging the function of the GRPD in recent years, specifically after Patrick Lyoya was murdered by a GRPD cop, a demand that even a group of local clergy has endorsed.
  • There have also been numerous policy demands made by activists since the GRPD murdered Patrick Lyoya in April of 2022, like Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker should recuse himself from prosecuting the former cop who murdered Patrick Lyoya, since Becker has received campaign contributions from GRPD police union.

Lastly, it is important to note that the demand to Defund the GRPD is also part of a larger, more longterm goal of police abolition, which has been a clear policy demand that the Movement for Black Lives have been calling for since they produced their Defund the Police/Fund our Communities Toolkit. Chief Winstrom fails to point out these facts, since doing so would undermine his efforts to marginalize those who want to hold him and the GRPD accountable.



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