Group sits in outside GRPD HQ to protest racial inequity

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Demonstrators took the streets of downtown Grand Rapids Friday evening, calling for racial equity within the criminal justice system and spending more than two hours outside police headquarters as the night wore on.

Justice for Black Lives, a Grand Rapids-based organization aiming to make legislative and community-based changes for people of color, hosted the event, called “We Will Not Be Silenced” on Facebook.

The demonstrators met Rosa Parks Circle around 4 p.m. and started to march shortly before 6:30 p.m. They went by the Kent County Courthouse, where officers looked out from inside, then went to Grand Rapids Police Department headquarters.

There, Breonna Taylor’s cousin, Tawanna Gordon, led a chant in Taylor’s honor.

Taylor, a Grand Rapids native, was shot and killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky, in March. Earlier this week, a grand jury decided one of the officers involved would face charges of wanton endangerment for blindly firing his weapon, but not for killing Taylor.

The marchers headed back to Rosa Parks Circle shortly after 7 p.m., then marched again to GRPD around 8 p.m.

Shortly before 9 p.m., officers on bicycles rode out and police increased the presence of officers on foot, too.

Officers from a tactical bicycle squad line up along Division Avenue as demonstrators chant outside Grand Rapids police headquarters. (Sept. 25, 2020)

The demonstration organizer noted the city’s noise ordinance went into effect at 10 p.m. but encouraged people to remain quietly. The protesters sat calmly in the street, which was closed to vehicle traffic, in front of the department.

Around 10 p.m., police told the protesters that Monroe Center was about to reopen, so they could not stay in the street; anyone in the road would be arrested. Protesters moved to the sidewalk, which police said was lawful.

Shortly after that, organizers told the crowd it was time to go home as their message had been heard.

Most people did leave.

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