Grand Rapids chief to march with community Wednesday

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne, surrounded by police in full riot gear, talks with protesters in the intersection of Fulton St. and Ionia Ave. in downtown Grand Rapids on June 1, 2020.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne plans to march and stand in solidarity with the community at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Payne will also assist in the event’s planning.

“Ultimately, what we want is peace,” said Payne at a City Commission meeting on Tuesday.

According to the Facebook page for the event, protesters will line up along Fulton Street around 3:45 p.m. Starting at 4 p.m., they will sit silently for one hour, then kneel for 9 minutes in honor of George Floyd chanting “I can’t breathe.” At 5:09 p.m., protesters will sit again and then leave at 5:30 p.m. Organizers stressed that leaving right at 5:30 p.m. will create a clear delineation between the peaceful protest and anyone who might later cause problems downtown.

The demonstration comes after protesters criticized Payne for not marching with them on Monday. Downtown Grand Rapids experienced widespread property damage after a night of rioting on Saturday.

Also at the meeting, the city announced new initiatives to improve the department’s relationship with the community.

Some of those steps include the creation of a new Community Police Advisory council by Saturday. The city also plans to hold a virtual town hall to listen to the community’s concerns and seek solutions.

Oversight and Accountability and the Equity and Engagement offices will also host events led by experts about healing from trauma related to racism and the use of force.

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