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GRPD says they want protesters' ‘voices heard’ in safe way

GRPD preparing for protests after verdict is announced in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. The jury began deliberations Monday afternoon.
Posted at 8:36 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 08:10:51-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As the jury in the Derek Chauvin murder trial deliberates, the Grand Rapids Police Department are expecting for protests and demonstrations to occur as soon as the verdict is announced.

RELATED: Jury concludes first day of deliberating in Derek Chauvin trial without verdict

Sgt. Dan Adams said they hope the events go peacefully.

“Regardless of the outcome, regardless of what happens this has been a very emotional experience from the entire country down to the individual person, with their own thoughts and feelings and opinions and experiences. We completely recognize that,” said Sgt. Adams during a Zoom interview on Monday afternoon. “We understand that people are going to want to express their feelings, be passionate about it, lift up their voices and want to be heard.”

Sgt. Adams said they encourage people to do so in a way that keeps them and others safe. They know that not everyone who attends demonstrations, rallies and protests have a peaceful agenda.

Last year, after the death of George Floyd in May 2020, a peaceful rally and march through downtown Grand Rapids, attended by thousands of people, turned into riots at night from people not associated with the organizers or activists, he said.

“That’s definitely one of our concerns is we’ve gotten intelligence from around the country that there are those individuals who will attempt to hijack a peaceful event and that’s what we’re really looking out for,” Sgt. Adams said. “We’re warning any organizers, letting them know we’re here to assist proactively in the beginning or to respond if necessary to make sure again that their event is successful and safe for everyone.”

GRPD released a statement Monday afternoon as well relaying the same message. They also posted it to their Facebook page.

Fox 17 reached out to Justice For Black Lives for a comment about the possibility of upcoming demonstrations due to the Chauvin verdict. They released a statement on their Facebook page stating:

"As promised, on whatever date that the verdict of the Derek Chauvin Trial is announced, Justice for Black Lives will be downtown on Breonna Taylor Way at 5:00 pm."

Sgt. Adams said it’s unknown when the jury will reach a verdict. Nevertheless, police are asking everyone ahead of time to be safe.

“As we digest everything that’s going on is we want those events to be successful,” Sgt. Adams said. “By successful we mean that their voices are heard, that their opinions are shared, and the dialogue is started but in a lawful, orderly and safe way.”

RELATED: GRPD, City of Grand Rapids issue statement in wake of closing arguments in Chauvin trial