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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

GR Protests end when police officers take a knee

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Michelle Jokisch Polo
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On Wednesday, protesters peacefully gathered on Fulton Street in Downtown Grand Rapids from Pearl Street to Monroe Avenue. Officers from the Grand Rapids Police Department, Kent County Sheriff’s Department and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department used city trucks barricading the east and west entrances to GRPD’s headquarters. 

Police Chief Eric Payne addressed the crowds. 

“I am now in the position and that’s why I am the Chief of Police to help those change happen, okay? That’s my commitment to every community member in Grand Rapids and anyone else. I hold officers accountable, and I will continue (to).” 

At one point during the protest, there was growing tension with the overwhelmingly white protesters promising to leave if officers took a knee. The officers eventually agreed to kneel in solidarity with George Floyd. 

Danah Montgomery, who was one of the original organizers of the event, decided not to attend the protest explaining she doesn’t want to be a part of a movement that puts the spotlight on officers kneeling.  

“I don’t feel comfortable with them kneeling with that protest and that sit-in when they haven’t done the work to truly listen to the community and Black voices to implement change .”

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