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Community updates: Monday, June 29

City of Grand Rapids to reopen more services, end break on metered parking; Grand Rapids Pride Center releases plan to better ally with communities of color; family of Breonna Taylor, local nonprofit launch petition to rename downtown Grand Rapids street in Taylor's honor; and more.
Mural along downtown Grand Rapids' Monroe Center St. of the faces of lives lost to racially-based police brutality.

Mural along downtown Grand Rapids' Monroe Center St. of the faces of lives lost to racially-based police brutality. /John Rothwell

City of Grand Rapids to start next phase of service reopenings, end break on metered parking on July 6

Following the holiday weekend, the City of Grand Rapids will resume walk-in service to City Hall offices and end its three-month break on metered parking, it announced on Monday.

Walk-in service will be open for 311 Customer Service, the Income Tax Department, and the Treasurer’s Office on Monday, July 6, with weekday open hours from 8am-5pm. Appointments are recommended to ensure physical distancing, and face coverings are strongly encouraged for those medically able to do so.

All other City Hall offices and departments will resume walk-in service on July 13.

Additionally, as part of the city’s reentry plan, restrooms at 10 of the city’s parks opened Monday. Among the parks are Rosa Parks Circle, Riverside Park, Martin Luther King Park, and Wilcox Park.

The city’s new reentry plan comes amid public reopenings across Michigan after Gov. Whitmer lifted the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order and moved the entire state to at least phase four of the MI Safe Start Plan.

Metered parking in Grand Rapids had been suspended since March in light of Whitmer’s stay-home order. On July 6, the suspension ends – along with the free parking zone program for downtown and neighborhood businesses. The program was implemented to help businesses with their drop-off and takeout services.

To continue encouraging business to local shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, the City of Grand Rapids is now providing Motu parking validations to local businesses for customers and staff. Businesses may request up to 100 Motu parking validations.

We are committed to doing what we can to support our local businesses as they reopen – and help residents and visitors do the same,” said Josh Naramore, the city’s Mobile GR and Parking Services Director.

Our new parking validation program provides a financial incentive for businesses and their customers and it promotes available parking for everyone as businesses reopen and more people return to the workplace.”

More details about the Motu parking incentive are available on the the city's website. More details about the city’s new reentry plan are available in its GRConnected newsletter.


Grand Valley State University implements face covering protocols on campuses

Grand Valley State University (GVSU) announced on Friday it’s now requiring the wearing of face coverings on its campuses, including classrooms and laboratories, when six-feet distancing is unable to be maintained.

The new protocols follow the university's confirmation that in-person classes will be returning for its fall semester.

Those unable to wear face coverings due to medical conditions will be directed to GVSU’s Disability Support Services. The university will provide two face coverings to each employee and one to each enrolled student.

The CDC advises that one of the best ways to help slow the spread of COVID-19 is by wearing a face covering,” GVSU said in a statement. “Face coverings must be combined with social distancing, hand washing, self-assessments, and encouragement to stay home when ill (even with mild symptoms) to have the best opportunity to reduce risk.”

Face coverings are not required in residence halls when in a personal room, suite, or apartment. They’ll also not be required in dining areas when seated and dining, in offices and other areas where six-feet distancing can be maintained, or outdoors when physical distancing is possible.

More information about GVSU’s COVID-related safety protocols can be found on the Lakers Together page on GVSU’s website.


Grand Rapids Pride Center releases accountability plan to better ally with communities of color

The Grand Rapids Pride Center (GRPC) released a Community Accountability Plan (CAP) on Friday, identifying actions it will take to more concretely ally with communities of color in fighting against systemic racism.

The plan’s release follows a June 22 letter issued by Black LGBTQ+ members of the community, demanding the GRPC stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and commit to their aligned requests.

Committing to the community members’ requests and expanding on it, the GRPC’s 12-item plan ranges from ending all existing relationships with the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) to holding listening sessions with marginalized community members, making financial contributions toward racial justice and equity, and more.

This June, rather than focusing on Pride, we have begun the necessary and long-overdue work of looking inward,” the GRPC said in a statement about the plan.

We are constructing the steps and actions we can take as individuals and as an organization to be anti-racist and to become true allies for people of color within our LGBTQ+community and the BIPOC community in our city, county, and state.”

The GRPC’s CAP provides a breakdown of action details, their due dates, GRPC and community members responsible for each action, and ongoing updates.

Three of the plan’s items have a due date of June 30 – all related to local law enforcement. The first two of these items are ending all existing relationships with the GRPD and other law enforcement agencies, and no longer contracting with them at any future Grand Rapids Pride Festival or festival-related event. Both items will be communicated to GRPD Chief Eric Payne in a formal letter.

The third item due June 30 includes requesting the GRPD’s 2020-2021 budget be reduced from 39% to 32%, allowing around $9 million to be reallocated to public services for communities of color. It was completed on June 26 through letters sent to the City Commissioners, Mayor Bliss, and City Manager Mark Washington.

Full details of the GRPC’s CAP is available on its website.


Family of Breonna Taylor and local nonprofit launch petition to rename Monroe Center St. in honor of Taylor

With heightened advocacy around racial justice and equity sustaining momentum in Grand Rapids, a new petition has emerged to rename one of downtown Grand Rapids’ busiest streets in honor of Breonna Taylor.

Amend Monroe Center St NW to Breonna Taylor Sta petition, is seeking to collect roughly 3,000 signatures to reach the next stage in the effort to rename Monroe Center St. NW in honor of Taylor, a Grand Rapids native.

Taylor, born and raised in Grand Rapids, was shot and killed in March by Louisville police officers executing a no-knock warrant. Her death has added to nationwide unrest over police brutality against Black lives.

The petition was written and is supported by Breonna Taylor's family and Justice for Black Lives (JFBL). JFBL is a local nonprofit that’s organized recent Grand Rapids protests, such as the “Kids March” against police brutality at Rosa Parks Circle on June 20.

[Monroe Center St.] is the street that runs right next to Rosa Parks Circle and we feel it is the MOST fitting location to bear her name,” JFBL said on its Facebook page.

As of Wednesday evening, the petition had amassed nearly 2,500 signatures.


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