The Rapidian

Community updates: Monday, June 8

Grand Rapids leaders hosting digital town hall on policing on Wednesday, LINC UP, Urban Core Collective, and NAACP Grand Rapids respond to city plans for improved police-community relations, Grand Rapids Public Library eliminating overdue fines, and more.
Grand Rapids Public Library will begin its phased reopening on June 15, with overdue fines gone.

Grand Rapids Public Library will begin its phased reopening on June 15, with overdue fines gone. /T.F.K. Roberts

City of Grand Rapids hosting digital town hall on policing on June 10

Grand Rapidians are invited to join City leaders for a Digital Town Hall on Policing on Wednesday, the City of Grand Rapids announced. The town hall will discuss earlier suggestions from residents and other stakeholders about police-community relations.

“The digital town hall will include brief updates on actions taken and plans to eliminate bias and structural racism from policy and practices,” the City said in a statement.

City leaders will also seek input from the community about community-police relations, with a focus on three areas: strategies for police reform, social determinants in criminal justice, and increasing transparency and accountability.

Happening 5-7pm on Wednesday, June 10, the town hall’s panelists will be City Manager Mark Washington, Police Chief Eric Payne, and Director of Oversight and Public Accountability Brandon Davis.

During last week’s City update, the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability (OPA) outlined 11 proposals it’s acting on to build trust between the Grand Rapids community and police force. Since the update, City leaders have received additional community feedback about ways to improve policing.

Among the community’s proposals further input will be sought on are banning chokeholds, requiring officers to de-escalate use-of-force situations, and redirecting funding from the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) toward economic development, housing and, other community programs.

The town hall will be live-streamed on the OPA’s Facebook page and the City’s YouTube page. A Spanish-language livestream will also be available. More details about the town hall are available on the City of Grand Rapids’ website.

 

LINC UP, Urban Core Collective, NAACP Grand Rapids respond to city plans for improved police-community relations

Likely to be discussed at City leaders’ Wednesday town hall is a joint response from LINC UP, Urban Core Collective, and NAACP Grand Rapids on June 4 about the City’s proposed actions to improve police-community relations.

The proposed solutions fall short of the leadership that is needed for systemic change to occur,” the local nonprofits’ statement said. “New committees and advisory boards are performative at this point and have not yielded change at the rate that is necessary to improve the existing police structure.”

To ensure the necessary change in police-community relations, the organizations want Chief Payne to release a GRPD Accountability Plan with tangible action steps, accountability measures, a timeline of implementation, and measurable outcomes that will eradicate injustices being perpetuated by the GRPD. Among expectations in such a plan are expanded funding for the OPA to national standards of 3% of the police budget and subpoena power for the Civilian Appeals Board.

Following up on their joint response, the organizations released a GRPD Accountability Plan petition on June 5 for community members to sign. As of Sunday, it’s garnered over 1,600 signatures.

The petition and June 4 statement are available on LINC UP, Urban Core Collective, and NAACP Grand Rapids’ Facebook pages.

 

Grand Rapids Public Library eliminating overdue fines

The Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) is going fine free, it announced Monday.

Fines on all overdue GRPL materials, including books, movies, and music, will no longer accrue fines. Old fines on materials have also been forgiven, effectively immediately.

The Grand Rapids Public Library believes that everyone should have access to the library,” the GRPL said on its website. “By eliminating fines on overdue material, we are removing a barrier for many residents of Grand Rapids.”

According to the GRPL, 11,700 of its patrons had previously been blocked from borrowing library materials due to fines on their accounts. In Grand Rapids, the neighborhoods most negatively affected by library fines are also the neighborhoods with the lowest household incomes.

The announcement of a fine-free GRPL follows the library’s announcement last week about its reopening plans. A four-phase plan is being implemented, with Phase I starting June 15. In Phase I, library staff will return to its buildings and patrons can return library materials to outside book-drops. Curbside pickup becomes available in Phase II on June 29.

GRPL buildings partially reopening to patrons will come with the library’s Phase III and regular library services return with Phase IV. The dates for these final phases are still to be determined.

 

Kent County Health Department urging locals to respect restaurants, bars’ COVID-19 precautions amid reopenings

With restaurants and bars reopening across Michigan on Monday following Gov. Whitmer’s lifting of the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, Kent County Health Department (KCHD) Director Dr. Adam London is urging residents to be respectful of COVID-19 precautions.

You're going to see that, as you enter those places, they're taking some additional precautions with social distancing, with spacing of tables, limited occupancy.” said London. “Many of them are going to be using outdoor space in order to maximize the number of tables and the customers they can accommodate. Let's be respectful of that and let's remember that they have to continue to turn customers over in a timely way.”

With restaurants and bars limited to 50% indoor capacity in phase four of Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan – the phase all of Michigan’s presently in – London encourages residents not to stay in such spaces any longer than they have to.

Let's make sure that we're all doing what we can to keep them in business and keep us moving forward, so that we can move from phase four to phase five [of the Safe Start Plan] in a timely way,” London continued. “And then hopefully see the rest of businesses and other activities in the community reopen again.”

COVID-19 mitigation resources are available on the KCHD’s COVID-19 page, including those in multiple languages.

 

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