GRPD Chief Payne, Kent CO Sheriff & Deputies Take A Knee With Protesters
Wednesday afternoon protesters once again lined the streets of Grand Rapids this time in a silent protest for the killings of George Floyd and the black lives matter movement.
The protest was considered the #StillHereStillPissed protest, which was on plenty of the signs at the event. For the first hour of the protest, attendees stood along Fulton St holding signs while different people spoke to the crowd. Around 5 pm Grand Rapids Police Department Chief Payne and Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young came out and took a knee with protesters while they chanted "I Can't Breathe" before both law enforcement leaders along with other community leaders talked to the crowd about making positive changes within the community.
Chief Payne told the crowd protesting he was willing to meet with anyone who is willing to help Grand Rapids grow. He even took the knee twice as the protests were divided at Fulton and Division intersection because of snowplows that were placed in the roadway creating a barrier blocking the area around the police department.
WOODTV had reported that the protest was scheduled to end around 5:45 pm, but it became obvious watching the crowd, not everyone thought Cheif Payne's statement was enough, even though he did say any problems we face can't be fixed on the street, but in real meaningful conversations that he was willing to have with people. As the crowd was starting to leave, protesters decided to break from the scheduled plan, which was organized with the help of police for safety measures, and protesters started marching the streets.
Over the course of the evening, WOODTV says they marched through the Heritage Hill area and then to Gaslight Village in East Grand Rapids. They eventually returned to Fulton and Sheldon near GRPD headquarters where WOODTV says Kent County Deputies were standing in protective gear. During the walk back to downtown Grand Rapids, East GR Police Cheif Mark Herald even walked with protesters, telling WOODTV this is how you start the conversation, which is needed for change.
The return to police in protective gear downtown led to somewhat of a tense moment that could have gone either way, but ended up adding the perfect cap to the protesting earlier. The crowd wanted to see the KCS deputies take a knee with them and kept asking. To their complete surprise, the deputies did take a knee. WOODTV reports that brought very loud cheers from the crowd before everyone agreed to peacefully call it a night and start dispersing from the downtown area.