GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Community members came together Saturday night in Veterans Park to protest what they are calling the unlawful deaths of Michael brown and Eric Garner and what they have to stay about how it’s affecting their communities.
“It affects me because I am African American and I am taking public transportation. I am constantly out here in the open, and it worries me, because for myself when I have kids I don’t want them to think that the police are bad, because I don’t think that they are all bad,” said Mary Kennedy, vice president of the Black Student Union at Grand Rapids Community College.
A call for change echoes across the United States, after Grand Juries in Missouri and New York decided not to indict police officers for the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively. Now, protests are hitting Grand Rapids.
The Black Student Union at Grand Rapids Community College organized a peaceful protest in Veterans Park with the message that they are standing together with all the protesters across the country in their fight for justice. More than that, the killings were done by those who are supposed to serve and protect: police officers.
Michael Brown shot at least six times by an officer in Missouri, and no indictment for the police officer who pulled the trigger. Eric Garner chocked to death in New York, and no indictment for the police officer responsible for choking him. Now, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, shot by a Cleveland Police officers after he reportedly pulled a pellet gun out at city park.
“I have a 12-year-old son, so teaching them how to think, speak, and act with police is very difficult especially when they are really stereo-typed,” said Mary Kennedy who fears for her son’s safety on a daily basis.
Even though these events happened hundreds of miles from Grand Rapids the impact is felt in West Michigan. The group doesn’t expect change overnight, but want their voices to be heard
“I don’t care if somebody said they robbed a store like they said was the case with Michael Brown, I don’t care if somebody was selling single cigarettes outside the store which they said was the case with the Eric Garner, I don’t care if they have a toy gun which we know is the case with Tamir Rice, that doesn’t give you a right to take something you did not give, like their life, those are our children,” said Kennedy.
The group will send a letter to the White House to show they are in support of this protest and they say it’s just the beginning. They will be out here protesting for months to come in Grand Rapids.