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GRPD Chief Payne: "My heart is heavy tonight"

Posted at 11:10 PM, Jun 01, 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) this evening arrested 12 individuals who were in violation of the citywide curfew. The arrests came during a downtown protest that extended past the start of the 7 p.m. curfew and another small gathering at Veterans Park.

“My heart is heavy tonight,” GRPD Chief Eric Payne said. “In less than 48 hours, our city has seen multiple protests, destroyed property and a level of violence that has put our entire community in jeopardy. I cannot count how many times I have tried to have conversations with organizers and protesters. I’ve heard them. The entire city has heard them. We’re ready to continue the hard work we’ve been engaged in and start looking at new strategies to move forward.”

The protest arrests came after announcements were made with public address systems for 30 minutes before the start of the curfew to remind participants of it and that they would be arrested if in violation. Participants of the smaller gathering also were reminded of the curfew. They did not leave and were arrested without incident.

All 12 individuals were lodged at the Kent County Correctional Facility.

The curfew first was announced to the community Sunday afternoon during a media briefing, on social media and in emails and other communications with residents, community organizations and neighborhood associations. Reminders about the curfew also were posted on social media before and during Monday’s events.

The protest drew an estimated 200 people. They were able to assemble, chant and wave signs despite it being an unpermitted event.

Chief Payne attempted to speak with the crowd, but he was drowned out by shouting from within the group.

After 7 p.m., officers began making arrests for curfew violation and were met with bottles being thrown at them. Several arrests were made and the rest of the participants left the downtown area.

“I’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions the past couple of days,” Payne said. “From the low feeling of sadness and frustration on Saturday night to the high of appreciation Sunday morning when hundreds of people came out to clean up the downtown area. I am grateful to the community and our partners for all their help and support.

Chief noted that the Kent and Ottawa County sheriff’s departments, Wyoming and Kentwood Police departments and FBI were integral in helping to secure the downtown area. He also thanked the Michigan National Guard, which also is helping businesses and property owners secure broken windows and doors.

Community members are reminded that special events must be coordinated through the Office of Special Events by calling 616.456.4125.