ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Political activism once again took center stage in Allendale, as two groups held separate rallies for and against planning commission member Ryan Kelley.

Kelley has been the center of controversy since appearing on stage this past summer with men who would later be arrested in the plot to abduct Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Saturday afternoon, supporters of Kelley filled one side of Allendale Community Park. The other side of the park was people calling for his immediate removal.

Kelley was on hand to give his blessing to what was being called the Freedom March. The event was put together by the American Patriot Council, a group that says it’s trying to restore and support the Constitution.

“Just because you’re seen with somebody doesn’t mean that you support everything that they believe in. Just like you and me, we may have different views, and we can still talk and have a conversation,” said Bill, a Kelley supporter. “The way I see Ryan Kelley, he’s a patriot as far as I can see. He stands up for our Constitution and wants all of us to have a better future.”

On the opposite end of the park was the group Justice for Black Lives, a Grand Rapids-based organization aiming to make legislative and community-based changes for people of color. They say calling Kelley a victim of circumstance is a cop-out.

Supporters of Allendale Township planning commission member Ryan Kelley gathers at Allendale Community Park on Oct. 24, 2020.
People gather to call for the removal of Ryan Kelley. (Oct. 24, 2020)

“Can we uphold that same standard for Breonna Taylor? She associated with a drug dealer and because of that, her home was broken into and she was murdered,” said Carina Freeman, an organizer for Justice for Black Lives. “He associated with terrorists, but yet they want us to forget that.”

Folks from both sides said they wanted to keep the event civil, though the right-wing group eventually marched down Lake Michigan Drive.

***Editor’s note: A photo caption incorrectly stated the people with guns were supporters of Ryan Kelley. Those people were there for the other protest. The caption has been changed. We regret the error.***