GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids police released a statement Monday about arrests they made during a Justice for Black Lives protest in downtown over the weekend.
The protest was held Saturday evening at Monroe Center.
Justice for Black Lives says police “threw us to the ground, punched us and hit us with their bikes” after “hours and hours of peaceful protest.”
GRPD says no one was injured during the incident and that protesters were violating city ordinances because the space they used had already been booked for an ArtPrize-related event and because a protester repeatedly used a bullhorn.
According to GRPD, city staff were first made aware Sept. 14 of a Facebook post indicating that Justice for Black Lives was planning an event on Monroe Center for Sept. 25.
The city’s Office of Special Events reached out to Justice for Black Lives via email to let organizers know the area had already been booked for a permitted event and offered them alternative sites that were available.
GRPD says no one from JFBL responded.
The Office of Special Events reached out again on Sept. 20 and 24 with the same message, but still did not receive a response.
A GRPD captain told protesters on Sept. 25 that without a permit, they could protest, chant, gather and move about the area but could not impede the right of way, disrupt or interfere with any permitted events or use any amplified sound, such as speakers or bullhorns.
GRPD says that over the next three hours, the group regularly used a bullhorn and an officer approached them with warnings multiple times, issuing a citation during the third offense.
When the same individual again used a bullhorn, officers tried to take the woman into custody.
GRPD says when officers approached the woman to make an arrest, other protesters “began physically interfering by blocking our officers,” resulting in two arrests. The woman officers had been trying to arrest fled the scene.
The two arrested are charged with resisting and obstructing a police officer.
Read GRPD’s full statement here:
Justice for Black Lives said in a Facebook post Sunday that five protesters were injured.
“Something needs to be done and the city is not doing anything to hold their officers accountable and people are being brutalized every day,” the post said.
Organizers are encouraging people to attend Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, during which Justice for Black Lives will rally at 6 p.m. on Breonna Taylor Way across from the Ellis parking entrance before marching to the Commission meeting.