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Downtown Grand Rapids: scene to both peaceful protest and property damage Saturday night

Michelle Jokisch Polo

On Saturday evening, thousands of people marched in Downtown Grand Rapids from Rosa Parks Circle to Calder Plaza in solidarity with George Floyd’s family and Black communities all over the country.  

Credit Erik Lauchiè

At one point, the protesters converged outside the headquarters of the Grand Rapids Police Department demanding the police officers standing outside acknowledge police brutality. 

The majority of protesters ended the peaceful demonstration at Calder Plaza.  Later in the evening, the relationships between citizens and police officers escalated.  A video from one of the protesters shows officers dressed in riot gear shoving and pushing protesters. It is unclear if this escalation was provoked. Multiple accounts have since followed showing individuals damaging businesses throughout the downtown area. 

Credit Erik Lauchiè

Officers from the Grand Rapids Police, Wyoming Police Department, Kent County Sherriff’s Department and Michigan State Police were present. Despite the efforts of police, including the use of tear gas, to disperse the individuals causing damage the unrest continued to early hours of the morning. 

Residents of Grand Rapids returned to the downtown area immediately this morning to begin cleaning up the broken windows of businesses, graffiti, and the debris of multiple fires including that of five vehicles which were believed to be police cruisers.