GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— It’s a story out of Grand Rapids that’s gotten national attention featured on major news networks: five unarmed black kids held at gunpoint by police officers after they say they allegedly matched the description of someone leaving a fight with a gun.
That incident combined with a traffic stop study showing black drivers are nearly twice as likely to be pulled over in Grand Rapids had a lot of people talking about racial tensions during Tuesday night’s commission meeting.
Even though the traffic study and what steps the commission was going to take were initially on the agenda for tonight, it was taken off the list for discussion after the commission said that they weren’t ready to vote on it yet. It was a move that sparked even more debate, with plenty of people, including members of the NAACP, coming out to share their opinions.
In fact, some people said that it should be something they are working to push forward immediately.
Many cited tensions are high between the black community and the police and any delay on making changes following that traffic study could only make things worse, especially in light of that other incident involving five boys. While police have apologized for that and said protocol was followed, many say relations with the department still have a ways to go.
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said this is a main priority of theirs, but they want to move forward in the correct way. They said a lot of things in the recommendations will cost money, and they want to make sure they are spending it in a way that will make a significant impact.
That traffic stop study was part of a 12 point plan that city implemented to increase the transparency in the police department.