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Justice for George Floyd rally in Michigan, police arrest protest leaders

By Tom Burke

March demands justice for George Floyd in Grand Rapids, MI.

Grand Rapids, MI – 100 people joined the Justice for George Floyd rally on March 8 at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, the largest turnout since winter began.

“We are standing in solidarity with our comrades in Minneapolis as we march for justice for George Floyd on the first day of the Derek Chauvin trial,” said Aly Bates, president of Justice for Black Lives.

Last summer, protests erupted across the country in response to the murder of George Floyd. In Grand Rapids over 2000 people surrounded the police station demanding that justice be served. That movement continues to this day.

“We are here in solidarity with Minneapolis, but also to push for and demand greater accountability for all the racist and political oppression committed by cops everywhere, including our own community,” said Barbara Howard, a local opponent of police crimes.

Howard continued, “Right here in Grand Rapids, we have the unjust victimization of Jilmar Ramos-Gonzales, a Marine veteran of the Afghan war who spent three days in ICE detention. He faced possible deportation despite being a natural born American citizen, after racist Grand Rapids Police Captain Curt VanderKooi called his ICE contacts to target Ramos-Gonzales.”

“We also have the unjustifiable and inhumane handcuffing of Honestie Hodges, age 11, in front of her home while she, and her mother and grandmother were held at gunpoint with no prior explanation. Poor Honestie died from COVID 19 this year at the age of 14,” Howard said.

As the rally ended, people began marching while chanting, “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!”

Marching in the streets with signs and banners, followed by the television and print media, the protest wound its way through downtown. As they approached the police station, the crowd was blocked by police on a street that is partially closed to traffic for restaurant patrons.

Seemingly out of nowhere, the police started arresting protest leaders by snatching them out of the crowd. As more people confronted the police about the first two arrests, they grabbed others until six were roughhoused, handcuffed and driven away. The police provocation was definitely meant to intimidate protesters and follows similar repressive police measures ordered by mayors and politicians in other cities.

Protesters plan to return to Rosa Parks Circle at 5 p.m. on the day the jury returns a verdict in the killer cop Derek Chauvin trial.

#GrandRapidsMI #PeoplesStruggles #PoliceBrutality #GeorgeFloyd #DerekChauvin