The Rapidian

Community updates: Monday, June 1

Peaceful protests return before Grand Rapids curfew, as Gov. Whitmer lifts "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order.
Downtown Grand Rapids

Downtown Grand Rapids /Lola Audu

Peaceful protests of George Floyd death return before Grand Rapids curfew

"I hear you. I've been hearing you. Black lives matter," Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne told protesters hours before the city’s curfew kicked back in for a second night.

Payne’s attempts for dialogue may have gotten lost in the audible fury. Shouts and demands for racial justice returned to downtown Grand Rapids on Monday following Saturday’s peaceful protests-turned-riots. Grand Rapidians and residents across the nation have been publicly demonstrating their anger over the May 25 killing of George Floyd since videos of his death spread online.

The death of Floyd, an African American, by a white police officer, follows a series of police killings in the U.S. that’ve prompted action in recent years over racially-driven police brutality.

Shortly after Grand Rapids' curfew went into effect at 7pm on Monday, protesters began dispersing. MLive reports that GRPD officers and guardsmen from the Michigan National Guard put on gas masks and fired flash bangs and "Safe Smoke." Six people were arrested, including two who ran from police before being tackled. By 7:40pm, Grand Rapids and state police had secured the downtown area.

Before protesters were dispersed, chants of "black lives matter" and "I can’t breathe" colored the mood.

Chief Payne, addressing the media before the curfew went into effect, was asked about marching with the crowd – a demand expressed by many of the protesters on Monday.

"Chief Payne would consider marching with organizers, if they would speak to him ahead of time to work through the details," the GRPD said in a Facebook post. It followed with Payne’s own words: "This isn't about picking sides, this is about working together."

Monday’s curfew is part of Grand Rapids’ 48-hour curfew that began on Sunday. The curfew for both days is 7pm-5am. It coincides with Mayor Rosalyn Bliss’ signing of a civil emergency proclamation in response to Saturday’s riot damage downtown.


Gov. Whitmer lifts "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order; enables bars and restaurants to reopen June 8

Michigan’s latest spike in public protests comes at a time of major change for the state’s coronavirus battle. Whitmer issued an executive order Monday rescinding her "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order and moving the entire state to stage four of the MI Safe Start Plan.

The order enables retailers to open June 4 and bars and restaurants to open June 8, subject to capacity limits. Day camps for children may also open on June 8.

Effective immediately are groups of 100 or less being allowed to gather outdoors and the resuming of office work not able to be performed remotely. In-home services, such as housecleaning services, may also resume. All must adhere to physical distancing measures, such as maintaing six feet of distance from others.

"While Michiganders are no longer required to stay home, we must all continue to be smart and practice social distancing, and encourage those who meet the criteria to get tested for COVID-19," said Whitmer. "If we all do our part, our goal is to announce a shift to phase five for the entire state prior to the fourth of July. Stay smart, stay safe, and let’s all do our part."

Subject to local regulation, gyms and fitness centers may operate outdoor classes, practices, training sessions, or games. Outdoor pools can also reopen, with capacity limits. Like the other loosened restrictions, physical distancing measures must be maintained.

"Michiganders must continue to wear facial coverings when in enclosed public spaces and should continue to take all reasonable precautions to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the community," a statement from Whitmer’s Office said. "And they should continue to work from home to the maximum extent possible."


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