Protesters pack Grand Rapids commissioner’s meeting over Patrick Lyoya’s death
Protesters inside City Hall demand justice for Patrick Lyoya. (Fight! News/Staff)
Grand Rapids, MI – A crowd of hundreds marched to the Grand Rapids City Commissioners meeting on April 12 to demand both the release of the raw video showing the murder of Patrick Lyoya and the arrest of the still anonymous killer cop. Lyoya was a 26-year-old Congolese immigrant executed by the Grand Rapids Police Department last week. In the days since his death, mourning and citywide protests against the police have intensified and are expected to increase after the video was released on Wednesday.
The police department continued to block the footage, while the city insists it is acting transparently. Patrick’s father, Peter Lyoya, said the video shows his murdered son “in execution mode” on the ground. The family said the ministry’s account that there was a “struggle” belies the facts.
The Royal Black Panther Party of Grand Rapids organized the march to the meeting. Hundreds of community members attended and lined up all the main streets downtown. “Say his name!” Patrick Lyoya! and “You can’t stop the revolution!” GDPR is not the solution! echoed through the city.
Prior to the protest, barricades were erected around the police station. A few of the downtown businesses plastered their windows with “Patrick Lyoya” painted on the plywood.
The demonstrators stopped in front of City Hall and were led by chants of “I am! A revolutionary ! and “Black Power!” before crowding into the building. Protesters were taken out in groups due to capacity limits, while the rest remained on the first floor to continue singing and watching the live stream in an overflow room.
City Manager Mark Washington, near the start of the meeting, said the video will be released tomorrow at 3 p.m. during a live stream with the police chief, who will “provide context” for the footage. The video provided on Wednesday will be compiled from nine different sources. GRPD Chief Eric Winstrom released a statement warning that the video contains “graphic imagery resulting in death” and will be tagged with an age restriction on the city’s YouTube page.
During public comments, calls for the release of the video, the arrest of the anonymous killer cop and the resignation of the entire board of commissioners were widespread. A few speakers acknowledged their continued attendance at meetings over the past few years and the city’s inaction to address GRPD brutality, which has left local activists with physical injuries and mental trauma.
The commissioners have been called out by name for not doing their job and for their ‘crocodile tears’ now that the spotlight is on them. A local woman said her husband had been murdered by the GRPD and her 12-year-old child was too traumatized to attend the meeting.
The meeting lasted over four hours. More protests are already planned after the video was released, including a call to action on Friday, April 15.