GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of activists has been meeting at local coffee shops in Grand Rapids for the last few weeks to keep a spotlight on the death of Patrick Lyoya.
The group met at Rising Grinds on Madison Avenue SE and Hall Street Tuesday. It was the fourth and last planned writing session, something the activists say they started to keep pressure on city officials.
“Unfortunately, we don’t feel as though our voices are being heard. The city commission meetings keep on being recessed and adjourned and I understand that city officials, some of them, say we want to hear you, we want to be there for you, we want to hear your concerns, but when there’s only one period where you can speak for three minutes every two weeks. How accessible is that to the regular person?” Jose Rodriguez, who helped organize the letter writing events, said.
In the letters, activists asked city commissioners and the city manager to reduce the budget for Grand Rapids Police Department. They’re also asking to “demilitarize” the police.
They say they want accountability in recent incidents of police force against community members and cases from the past.
“We’re still out here fighting. As the crowds start to dwindle at the protests, as voices start to quiet down, there’s still a core group of people that are demanding justice for Patrick Lyoya; accountability, not just from GRPD but for all the police around the country,” said Rodriguez. “This is a systemic issue. It’s not just a Grand Rapids issue.”
Lyoya, 26, was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids police officer on April 4 after a traffic stop and struggle. Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker, who will decide whether the shooting was justified or whether charges are warranted, said Tuesday that he’s still awaiting a report from the company that manufactured the officer’s Taser and body camera. Becker said there’s no timeline on when he will receive that and that he cannot make a decision until he does.