GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids residents gathered inside the Ottawa Hills High School auditorium on Thursday night, demanding answers after Patrick Lyoya was killed by a Grand Rapids police officer.
The event came a day after police released footage from the April 4 traffic stop that ended with the officer shooting and killing Lyoya.
Third Ward Commissioners Nathaniel Moody and Senita Lenear hosted the community conversation in partnership with multiple groups including the Black Impact Collaborative, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Rapids Public Library, Mental Health Clinicians of Color in Grand Rapids and Brigham Consulting.
“People are hurting right now, and rightfully so,” Lenear told News 8 in an interview ahead of time. “Parents are worried for their children, and spouses are worried for their spouses and the list goes on and on.”
For a conversation with 3rd Ward Commissioner Senita Lenear, watch the video in the player below.
For more than two hours, members of the community made their voices heard to city leaders.
“I want to know what’s going on!” Grand Rapids resident Sandy Beurkens said. “I’m just so mad about this. It’s heartbreaking they’d do this in Grand Rapids, Michigan.”
“I want answers,” Beurkens said. “I want to know what they’re going to do in the future with training police.”
Another resident echoed wanting answers.
“We want some answers,” Grand Rapids resident Kristen Earvin told News 8. “We have a lot of questions. I don’t feel comfortable with what’s happened in our city. I want to know what’s going to be done about it.”
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and City Manager Mark Washington were among those in the crowd.
City Attorney Anita Hitchcock and 3rd Ward Commissioners Moody and Lenear were on the panel facing questions from the community.
“Our community is hurting right now,” Moody said. “With the events that unfolded, it’s tragic. We want to deal with the trauma that is taking place in our community.”
Nadia Brigham, who’s spent decades fighting for racial equity, was also on the panel.
“We can’t go back to seven or 10 days ago and bring our brother back,” Brigham told the crowd. “What we can do is decide today not to patronize one another, not make judgement against one another.”
The goal of the event, Brigham said, was starting the healing process by talking to one another.
“These things happen to us, and we’re supposed to move past it quickly to heal it,” she said. “And part of the healing process is acknowledgment, right?”
“We need spaces where we can acknowledge and talk about healing,” she added. “Talking is the first step. Then we have to strategize and come to some action.”
For a conversation with Alpha Omega Ministries Senior Pastor Kenneth W. Hoskins, watch the video in the player below.
Brigham said people of all races should acknowledge how Black people are treated in Michigan and beyond.
“We have to acknowledge that pain and trauma exists for Black and brown people in this community and across this country and across this world every single day,” she said.
Additionally, Brigham reminded members of the crowd that their journeys are different from one another. That’s why she said it’s important to listen to one another — to understand each other’s experiences without passing judgement.
“I’m not making judgement on you because I don’t know you,” Brigham told an immigrant who spoke out Thursday night. “I don’t know what your journey has been as an immigrant. You don’t know what mine has been as a Black woman … all of us have a journey. All of us. And it all has to be acknowledged.”
Emotions were still raw more than 24 hours after the videos were released.
“I’m just sickened about it,” Beurkens said. “I grew up in Grand Rapids all my life. I’m 80 years old. And I didn’t know how the Black community was treated differently until my daughter married a Black man.”
Kevin Earvin, another Grand Rapids resident who attended the community conversation, said Lyoya’s death was “hurtful and sad.”
“They came from a country with war,” Earvin said. “They came over here to save (their) family and have (their) son be killed.”
“It’s just sad,” he added. “It makes me cry. You don’t know what they’re going to do when they pull you over.”
Mental health professions were on hand to help people struggling with the situation.
“We want to make sure the community can get the care it needs as we all struggle through the events that have taken place,” Moody said.
“That’s what tonight is about,” he added. “Addressing the fact everyone is hurting.”
— News 8’s Luke Laster contributed to this report.