Activists to protest Friday against the hiring of new GRPD chief of staff

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The former public safety director for Kalamazoo will start her job later this month for the Grand Rapids Police Department. However, some are upset about her hiring and want their opinions heard.

The group Justice for Black Lives is hosting a protest Friday against the hiring of Karianne Thomas as GRPD’s new chief of staff. Thomas was fired from her job as KDPS chief last year as the department faced criticism for its handling of racial inequality protests, downtown vandalism and a Proud Boys rally.

GRPD announced they were hiring Thomas last week as chief of staff, which is a newly created civilian role under GRPD’s strategic plan. She will mainly be handling the department’s budget.

“Karianne will be an asset in helping us continue to improve the GRPD. Her demonstrated commitment to building relationships, fiscal management, and transparency makes her the ideal person to help us continue our mission to be a more effective, inclusive, and trusted police department,” Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne.

Thomas worked for KDPS for 27 years.

The Friday’s rally starts at 6 p.m. night on Breonna Taylor Way in downtown Grand Rapids.

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