GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Several prominent West Michigan organizations announced a new coalition on Wednesday in which they plan to use their power to help the community create change.
“The change that we need, needs to happen now,” said Vincent Thurman, director of communications for Linc Up. “There are so many people who needlessly suffer, and if we can do anything about that, I think it’s our responsibility to.”
Linc Up, NAACP of Greater Grand Rapids, Urban Core Collective, and ACLU of Michigan formed the “Community Owns Safety” coalition to “take a proactive step toward creating thriving communities by increasing community investment in programs and services.”
According to Thurman, the goal is to provide a platform that empowers people and allows them to advocate for policies that go beyond traditional policing.
“Making sure people have information, creating the space for them to activate their interests, desires, and perspectives, and then go on to make decisions and influence decision makers,” said Thurman.
It’s an idea that formed in the months after last summer’s civil unrest and an unsuccessful attempt to cut $9 million from GRPD’s budget.
The Community Owns Safety coalition would host various events and utilize social media to engage people’s ideas and then use the organization’s connections to push leaders, like city commissioners, to make those thoughts known.
“The community should be defining how the city invests in creating thriving communities,” said Thurman. “Whether that’s at the neighborhood level, city level, or through institutions that are meant to work at the will of the people. The second piece is that there’s significant disparities in how the city invests in communities across the city, and so we want to make sure that that is balanced out.”
Thurman explains current methods of engagement for these conversations can be inaccessible to people, like meetings in the middle of a weekday, or even intimidating, with people afraid to speak up alone.
“I think we’re at a place where if people decide to get involved, we can do something and make some real, lasting, positive change,” said Thurman.
The coalition believes a greater say could lead to a greater community.
“The dream is that neighborhoods and communities are self-directed, self-sufficient and have the resources and opportunity to grow, but in particular more specifically it means people aren’t displaced from their neighborhoods or their schools have the funding and investment that they need to thrive and people have access to opportunities and amenities,” said Thurman.
To get involved, click here.