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Community Updates: Friday, February 3

Grand Rapids Public Museum to display Tuskegee Slides, highlight existing exhibits and programs in celebration of Black History Month; Defense motions to "quash" second-degree murder charges in People vs. Christopher Schurr case; and more
An aerial view of downtown Grand Rapids

An aerial view of downtown Grand Rapids /John Rothwell

Grand Rapids Public Museum to Display Tuskegee Slides, Highlight Existing Exhibits and Programs in Celebration of Black History Month 

On Monday, the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) sent out a press release to announce that it will be arranging "a special display," as well as highlighting a few of its existing exhibits and programs, throughout the month of February in celebration of Black History Month.

Visitors to the Museum have the opportunity to learn about Black History in Grand Rapids in a variety of different ways, such as visiting the GRPM's Newcomers: The People of This Place exhibit. Included in this exhibit are artifacts and stories relating to everything from "discrimination and the creation of the Auburn Hills neighborhood, the first African American neighborhood in 1960's Grand Rapids," to the lives of prominent Grand Rapidians such as J.C. Craig (a barber and owner of one of the City's first Black-owned businesses) and Dr. Emmett Bolden (a dentist and plaintiff in the 1926-27 Bolden v Grand Rapids Operating Company civil rights case). Guests can also make their way to the Museum's Galleria to see Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad, a late 20th century painting by Paul Collins, an artist from West Michigan.

The "special display" mentioned in Monday's press release refers to the Tuskegee Slides, 69 photographic lantern slides that were discovered during a digitization project in 2021. These slides were positively identified by GRPM staff, in cooperation with local historian Dr. Randyl Maurice Jelks, as being depictions of the Tuskegee Institute (now known as Tuskegee University) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These slides can be found in the window of the Voight Herpolsheimer Co. portion of the Streets of Old Grand Rapids exhibit alongside the Booker T. Washington Visits Grand Rapids displayMari Beth Jelks, the Grand Rapids Public Museum's Vice President of Human Resources, made the following statement in Monday's press release:

"The Museum welcomes guests to explore Black History every day within the Museum's core exhibits, and we're excited to showcase these additional pieces from the Collections. Stories and artifacts like these offer a deeper look into the history of Grand Rapids as we encourage everyone to check them out for yourself, either online or in person."

Some resources will also be available online, including a recording of a 2021 webinar called The History of Grand Rapids in Black and Brown: A Conversation (part of the GR Stories series). This event, hosted by the GRPM, was centered on "the history of Grand Rapids from the perspective of Black and Brown" and includes discussions from three panelists (Dr. Randyl Maurice Jelks, Dr. Todd Robinson, and Dr. Delia Fernandez). Additionally, residents who may not be able to visit the Museum in-person can also view the Museum's collections online here.


Defense Motions to "Quash" Second-Degree Murder Charges in People vs. Christopher Schurr Case

On April 4, 2022, Patrick Lyoya was fatally shot by Christopher Schurr of the Grand Rapids Police Department during a traffic stop on Grand Rapids' southeast side. The Michigan State Police immediately began an investigation and, just over two months later, Kent County Prosecutor Christopher Becker made the decision to officially charge Christopher Schurr with second-degree murder. 

In January of 2023, Schurr's attorneys claimed that the prosecution did not provide enough evidence to prove that the events of April 4, 2022 "met all four elements of second degree murder." They filed a motion to quash the Court's decision to bring the People vs. Christopher Schurr case to trial and to have the charges against Schurr dismissed. In their motion, the defense stated that:

"The district court erred in its legal findings related to the raised defenses, and the government's evidence presented at the preliminary examinations failed to provide disputed facts that would leave any question open for a jury to decide or support a finding that Officer Schurr committed a crime."

A few weeks later, Kent County Prosecutor Christopher Becker responded to the Defense's motion, saying that:

"...because the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding probable cause to bind Defendant over on the charge of second-degree murder or erroneously apply the legal standards underlying its bindover decision, Defendant's motion to quash the bindover should be denied."

According to a press release that was sent out on Thursday, this motion will be heard by Judge Christina Elmore of the Kent County 17th Circuit Court at 8:45am on Friday, February 3. 


Also in the News:

  • The City of Grand Rapids sent out a press release on Friday to announce that, until 12:00pm on Friday, February 17, the GR Affordable Housing Fund Board (AHFB) will be accepting proposals from "organizations that can implement projects to improve housing opportunities for individuals and families in the City of Grand Rapids." To learn more about what the City is looking for in these proposals, click here.


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