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Protesters gather in downtown Grand Rapids to demand justice for a man killed by Grand Rapids Police

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Photo of protesters on April 12 in downtown Grand Rapids (James Herold/The Collegiate)

By Ellie Halvorson and James Herold

The Royal Black Panther Party hosted a protest for Patrick Lyoya outside the Grand Rapids City Hall while the City Commission was in session on Tuesday, April 12.

Protesters met at Rosa Parks Circle, marched through the streets of downtown Grand Rapids, and gathered at Calder Plaza to demand justice for Lyoya, 26, who was shot and killed by a Grand Rapids Police officer on Monday, April 4 during a traffic stop.

“I want people to know that we’re seeking justice by any means necessary,” said Olbanji Olatunde, General of the Royal Black Panther Party who attended Tuesday’s protest armed with both a gun and a megaphone. “This isn’t the end, we will be back.”

Protestors were chanting “I can’t breathe,” “I have a dream,” “Say his name… Patrick,” “I am a revolutionary” while holding Black Lives Matter signs. Protesters were mostly peaceful, besides a man who got into a heated argument with Olantunde.

“We’re here to make a change. We’re not here for violence,” Brianna Pearson said. “We’re here to speak our voices when most times our voices are degraded. I’m here with my megaphone so that my voice is heard and so I can say I made a change.”

Grand Rapids Community College is located less than a mile from the Grand Rapids Police Department where demonstrators marched past Tuesday evening.

“We have not made a statement on the event so far and I’m going to direct you to our communications director for a comment,” said GRCC Police Chief Rebecca Whitman the day before Grand Rapids Police were scheduled to release videos depicting Lyoya’s death.

Dave Murray, Communications Director for GRCC said, “The safety of our GRCC students, employees and community members is our top priority. We will take appropriate steps to ensure safety” in regards to GRCC’s plan to monitor campus during any protests that may occur in the coming days.

The Grand Rapids Police Department will be holding a press conference at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 13 that is expected to include video footage depicting what led to the moment Lyoya was shot and killed by police. The conference will be live streamed on the City of Grand Rapids Youtube channel.