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Protesters' cries for change shut down GR City Commission meeting

Protesters gather outside of Grand Rapids City Hall
Kylie Ambu/WGVU
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Protesters gather outside of Grand Rapids City Hall awaiting Tuesday's city commission meeting

During the meeting's public comment period, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss called a recess, due to a community speaker’s use of expletives and running over time at the microphone. Frustrated community members shouted, getting out of their seats, and the meeting was ultimately adjourned.

Grand Rapids’ City Commission meeting ended abruptly on Tuesday night, as city leaders walked out and activists chanted in the somewhat empty meeting room. The uproar comes one day after the City’s police department identified Christopher Schurr as the officer who shot and killed Patrick Lyoya.

Prior to the meeting between two and three dozen protesters with the group Black Activists United marched their way to Grand Rapids City Hall, demanding justice for Lyoya. During the meeting's public comment period, Mayor Rosalynn Bliss called a recess, due to a community speaker’s use of expletives and running over time at the microphone.

“Okay, we’re going to take a recess until decorum is…We’re recessing commissioners for 10 minutes," Bliss said, instructing an employee to turn off the public microphone.

The crowd responded with shouts of frustration, one community member saying "Stop silencing our voices!"

While some commissioners initially remained in the area to hear from their constituents, the meeting was ultimately adjourned, as dozens of protesters flooded to the center of the room.

“Patrick Lyoya’s blood is on all ya’ll hands, and I hope you know that,” one person yelled.

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom remained in room to listen and speak with activists, who were demanding he fire and arrest Christopher Schurr, the GRPD officer who fatally shot Lyoya in the back of the head during a traffic a stop earlier this month.

“If I fired Chris Schurr today that would be a due process violation. He would grieve it, win immediately because I don’t have the investigation period. I don’t have any part of the investigation. He would win immediately. He would get hired back and he would be a police officer for the rest of his career, no matter what. And there would be nothing I could do,” Winstrom said.

Schurr is currently on paid leave, stripped of his police powers pending Michigan State Police’s investigation into the incident. By law no charges can be file d against Schurr until the MSP wraps up its investigation. At that time Kent County Prosecutor, Christopher Becker will determine whether charges will be filed.

Winstrom and protesters remained in City Hall until around 11pm.

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