By Elizabeth Halvorson and Kaia Zimmerman
Following the video release of the death of Patrick Lyoya by Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD), a peaceful protest commenced in downtown Grand Rapids on Wednesday, April 13.
Lyoya was killed by a GRPD officer on April 4 after he was stopped for an expired license plate. The video was released at a press conference and has sparked protests that are expected to continue throughout the week.
Wednesday’s protest started at Rosa Parks Circle and then hundreds of protesters marched to the Grand Rapids Police Department. The protest remained peaceful.
Protesters chanted during the rally with phrases including: “No justice, no peace.” “Say his name. Patrick.” and “Black lives matter. Blue lives murder.”
Savannah Ward, 21, of Grand Rapids, spoke about how the footage that was released by GRPD made her feel and what she thinks GRPD can do better.
“It brought back a lot of emotions from previous years. Seeing the same thing over and over again. It’s really upsetting to see it happen here, where I live,” Ward said. “First of all, when I heard that they even allowed one man in the car, well, that’s one thing already they can do. Use the buddy system. Accountability is a big thing to be in place. Putting police in areas they know. They [GRPD] have people driving in from Rockford, a rich neighborhood, coming to the south side of Grand Rapids. You don’t know these people. You don’t know how to talk to these people. You need the right people in the right places.”
Another demonstrator, Atraeyu Ishmon, spoke about the importance of speaking up and the frustration that he feels after the shooting.
“(I’m) showing support for all of GR’s community, especially people of color, especially at a time where people aren’t coming out in droves as they were before like they were over the George Floyd protests,” Ishmon said. “The problem is still here, and it’s not changing. We just need to find whatever way we can to make some significant change.
“It’s a really somber event for me,” he continued. “I’m tired, I’m angry, I’m upset. Could be worse, I could be six feet under. I could be one of these other victims of these terrible humans who are going above and beyond and just going overboard and just ruining the lives of so many people unnecessarily over a victimless crime.”
“I’m angry and I’m tired,” said a woman, 26, of Grand Rapids who wished to remain anonymous. “They should do what they should’ve done when they found out. Arrest the cop that did this. If my brother would have done something like this to someone else, he would’ve gone to prison.”
Grand Rapids officials are expecting more protests throughout the week.
“I know that these events will evoke numerous emotions, and rightfully so,” said Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink in an email to the GRCC community. “Please know that GRCC is here to offer support and to listen empathetically. Our campus counseling staff are available if you need to speak to someone.”
GRCC’s Counseling services can be reached at (616) 234-4130. Click here to learn more about available services.