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Community Updates: Friday, April 15

Protestors gather in downtown Grand Rapids after video footage of Patrick Lyoya's death is released to the public; and more
A view of Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids.

A view of Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids. /John Rothwell

Protestors Gather in Downtown Grand Rapids After Video Footage of Patrick Lyoya's Death is Released to the Public

During a press conference on Wednesday, April 13, the Grand Rapids Police Department released footage from the officer-involved shooting that killed 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya on April 4. According to Chief Eric Winstrom, the footage had been collected and compiled from four different sources -- the officer's body-worn and in-car cameras, a residential security camera from a house near the scene, and a cell phone video recorded by the passenger of Lyoya's vehicle. The press conference and the footage of the incident are available on the official City of Grand Rapids YouTube channel. The video is age-restricted due to its content and viewer discretion is advised as it contains strong language and the loss of human life. 

After the release of the footage, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in protest. Chants of "No Justice, No Peace" and "Black Lives Matter" could be heard as those gathered marched through the rain in downtown Grand Rapids, holding signs and waving flags -- calling for justice for Lyoya and his family and demanding that GRPD name "the killer cop." The protestors congregated around the downtown GRPD headquarters, standing outside the concrete barricades that the city had erected around it the day before. The police maintained a minimal presence during the protest, primarily staying within the walls of the station itself. Officers outfitted in riot gear did emerge from the building a few times, but they retreated after being met with shouting, cursing, and people beating their signs against the metal fences. However, the demonstration remained nonviolent throughout its duration out of respect for the Lyoya family's wishes for a peaceful protest. Another march was held on Thursday evening, with protestors once again gathering around the downtown GRPD headquarters and calling for "Justice for Patrick." According to a statement from City Manager Mark Washington, more protests are expected to take place as we head into the weekend. "Due to the focus of the protest being on our police department, we have taken some precautionary measures around that facility to facilitate continued access and uninterrupted operations," he stated. "While those actions have been taken out of an abundance of caution, we do not currently anticipate any threats to people or property in the downtown area." 

Many state leaders have issued statements following the release of the footage. "For all the focus on justice that has happened in our nation and our community in recent years, another young Black man is dead, and our community cries out for answers, and for justice," said Representative David LaGrand of the Michigan House of Representatives on Wednesday. "We need justice in our community, but Patrick's family needs Patrick back, something none of us can give them." Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer also released a statement on Wednesday saying:

"The Lieutenant Governor and I spoke with Patrick's family and our hearts are with them and the Grand Rapids Community who are dealing with unimaginable pain and loss. Patrick was 26. He arrived in the United States as a refugee with his family fleeing violence. He had his whole life ahead of him. Patrick was a son, a dad of two young daughters, and an older brother to his five siblings.

"The Michigan State Police will conduct a transparent, independent investigation of the shooting. Then, prosecutors must consider all the evidence, follow the law, and take appropriate action on charges. Justice is foundational to safety, and without justice, we are all less safe.

"Patrick's father asked me to convey his hope that any demonstrations in his son's honor remain peaceful, and as Governor I share this view. We must come together and build a future where Black Michiganders are afforded equal rights, dignity, and safety in our communities. I will never stop fighting to make Michigan a more equitable and just state."

Attorneys Ben Crump and Ven Johnson joined the Lyoya family at a press conference on Thursday, April 14th to discuss the footage and their intention to seek justice for Patrick. "As a parent, I was thinking maybe it was my son who was going to bury me. He will assist at my funeral," said Dorcas Lyoya, Patrick's mother, through a translator. "But what is so astonishing [is that] I am the one burying my son." Also in attendance was Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor. Breonna was a Grand Rapids native who was shot and killed by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky after they raided her apartment in 2020. "I know what it feels like to lose your 26-year-old child," Palmer said as she faced Patrick Lyoya's parents. "I want to apologize -- just that we haven't done enough to make sure Patrick was safe." The press conference was livestreamed by WOODTV8 on Facebook.


Also in the News:

  • Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has announced their lineup for the 2022 Fifth Third Bank Summer Concerts at Meijer Gardens series. The concert schedule extends from June 1 to September 30 and will feature a variety of artists, such as ZZTop, Sheryl Crow, Rick Springfield, The Beach Boys, and more! For more information, visit the Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park website here.


  • The Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association have partnered up and announced the 2022 Public Observing Nights program. Starting on April 23 and continuing through early November, members of the community can visit the James C. Veen Observatory in Lowell, MI on select Saturdays to observe the night sky. For more information, visit the GRAAA website here.


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