The Rapidian

City of Grand Rapids has failed to respond to demands for police accountability and cutting ties to ICE

Despite numerous calls for concrete action, the city of Grand Rapids gave no direct response to a coalition of groups demanding police accountability. While this is disheartening, they in no way will impact our commitment to seeking accountability and transformative justice.
A banner saying "Cops and ICE Go Hand in Hand" hangs off the Calder Plaza right before Tuesday's City Commission Meeting.

A banner saying "Cops and ICE Go Hand in Hand" hangs off the Calder Plaza right before Tuesday's City Commission Meeting. /Used with permission from Movimiento Cosecha GR

Come learn more about Movimiento Cosecha GR

What: Potluck and Informational Meeting for those who want to be allies to Cosecha's immigrant-led work
When: Thursday, May 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm
Where: Plymouth UCC, 4010 Kalamazoo SE
More:  Bring a dish to pass and your questions.  Find out more here.

 

On the evening of Tuesday, May 14, as the Grand Rapids City Commission meeting was approaching, attendees may have noticed a blue banner hanging over the railing of the Calder Plaza, facing the Monroe Street traffic.  The banner read, in white text, "Cops & ICE Go Hand In Hand."

Soon after, a photo of the banner was released on social media, with the following statement.

Statement from Movimiento Cosecha GR, GR Rapid Response to ICE, 360 Movement and Together We Are Safe

Our coalition has been making an achievable list of demands (listed below) for the City of Grand Rapids since February of this year. We gave the City a clear deadline of April 30. The City of Grand Rapids has NOT directly responded to our demands for holding GRPD accountable and responsible for the police brutality and other incidents involving officer's misconduct that violates public safety concerns along with ending all cooperation with ICE.

We are disappointed in the City’s actions. The failure of the City sends a message to our groups and to the oppressed populations from which these demands came - the Black and brown residential citizens as well as immigrant communities in our city.

 

The Memo

Instead of a direct response, we received a copy of a memo from the Grand Rapids City Manager to the Mayor and the Commissioners. The memo vaguely addressed our overall concerns, but resulted in policy decisions that are counter to our demands. We asked for justice and the City responded with more bureaucracy. The City Manager has proposed:

  • Creation of a five-person evening shift of community policing services.

  • Addition of a crisis intervention and behavioral health specialist.

  • Creation of a position in the Executive Office to work on public safety community relations.

There is no accountability, no money for trauma inflicted, no end of cooperation with ICE, and little support for community care.

 

The March

The city agreed to bring the issue of Driver’s Licenses to the Secretary of State and the West Michigan Delegation, yet for the Cosecha May 1st march for Driver’s Licenses the city demanded that Movimiento Cosecha GR obtain a permit.

This was the 3rd year for the march and the City has never required a permit in the past. The City threatened the immigrant community with arrest if we marched in the streets. This was a clear message that they were going to step up the repression against communities most affected by police and ICE violence. We continue to push for a formal resolution supporting Driver’s Licenses for All from the City of Grand Rapids.

 

Our Movements

While these responses from the City are disheartening, they in no way will impact our commitment to seeking accountability and transformative justice for Black, brown and immigrant communities.

If anything, the response from the City and GRPD has energized our movement to continue to fight for justice and to radically imagine a world where police, ICE agents, prisons, detention centers, and borders are no longer used as agents of oppression.

The City has postponed voting on their Human Rights Ordinance tonight. We believe that such an ordinance has no meaning if the GRPD can continue to harm Black, brown and immigrant communities and get away with it. Yet bureaucratic delays are dragging out even this basic symbolic gesture. It is more important than ever that we continue the fight for justice.

 

Original statement of demands

To the City Commission and GRPD:

We in the community, Movimiento Cosecha GR, GR Rapid Response to ICE, 360 GR Movement, and Together We Are Safe demand the following:

  1. Support Driver’s Licenses for All in the State of Michigan.
  2. Fire police officers who have committed brutality by beating and kicking Black drivers. Fire Captain Curt VanderKooi who has a long history of discrimination based on race and is not safe for our neighborhoods.
  3. Stop all cooperation with ICE and use no city resources to do the work of ICE. There should be no police role of “ICE liaison.”
  4. Release the code of conduct for officers and the track record of each officer’s misconduct report, including complaints against them. Release the reports of their investigations so that the public can track their accountability processes. Create an accountability reprimand policy for all officers that stand by during instances of beatings or other harm.
  5. Create subpoena powers and investigative powers for our Civilian Appeals Board.
  6. Give a vote of No Confidence to Acting Chief Kiddle.
  7. Create a program whereby GRPD pays for at minimum 5 years of trauma-related therapy especially for any youth interaction deemed inappropriate regarding harassment, profiling, excessive force etc.
  8. Regarding the million dollars over five years that the city has set aside to deal with community police relations: appropriate that to the community to keep our neighborhoods safe.

Movimiento Cosecha GR is part of an immigrant-led non-violent movement to win dignity, respect, and permanent protection for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

GR Rapid Response to ICE is a network of people trained to come to the aid of immigrants directly affected by ICE violence.

The 360 Movement is a network of committed individuals working together to give communities Curriculum, Programs, and Resources (CPR) in 12 key areas, including Justice.

Together We Are Safe is a group of neighbors developing community solutions as we face the housing crisis and over-policing together.

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