GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne and City Manager Mark Washington issued a statement Monday in response to the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin coming to an end.
The defense and prosecution are both making their closing statements Monday.
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The statement says the city is committed to “improving policing in our community, enhancing our service, building trust and partnerships and working to be a model in community-police relations.”
GRPD says it will protect the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, but warned of individuals who may “hijack” these events “to cause chaos and destruction.”
“We should not and will not allow our community to be further divided by those whose aims are not healing but harm – to our people, our businesses and our City,” the statement said.
Read the full statement:
As the murder trial of Derek Chauvin comes to an end, the City of Grand Rapids reaffirms its steadfast commitment to improving policing in our community, enhancing our service, building trust and partnerships, and working to be a model in community-police relations. We acknowledge that there is work to do, both locally and in communities across the country, to combat historical injustice and hold all law enforcement officers to the highest standards of equity, inclusion and protecting the safety of all people. Together, in Grand Rapids, we have begun the candid and difficult conversations needed to address issues while also taking concrete steps to ensure the people of this City have the public safety they need and deserve.
Whatever the outcome of this trial, we know people will be emotional and passionate in their reactions. We know people will want to express that emotion and have their voices heard. And as always, we stand ready to protect the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly. We must also be on guard for those who seek to exploit these events to undermine the work we've already begun here.
The Grand Rapids Police Department is aware that there are those who may attempt to hijack peaceful events to cause chaos and destruction, turning these events violent and unlawful. We should not and will not allow our community to be further divided by those whose aims are not healing but harm - to our people, our businesses and our City. We have come too far together in these last eight months.
We have made the necessary preparations to respond as needed. We encourage organizers to be aware of this and to work with the City's Office of Special Events and the GRPD before and during events to ensure the safety and security of everyone.
We are committed to constructive racial justice and police reform conversations, to supporting all organizations and individuals in exercising their lawful rights to free speech and peaceful assembly, and to keeping Grand Rapids the safest mid-sized city in the United States.