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Dozens demand public apology from Grand Rapids officers who held boys at gunpoint

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Dozens of people demanded a change in police protocol after an incident where officers drew their guns on five young, unarmed boys.

On March 24, Grand Rapids police had their guns drawn on a group of young boys who were walking home after playing basketball. Police say they were responding to a call where a witness reported suspects matching their description armed with a gun. The boys were ordered to get on the ground and were detained, but ultimately it was found they were not armed.

"I apologized to the young men and their families with a sincere apology and an explanation that the officers involved were following up on information in our ongoing efforts to keep everyone in this community safe," GRPD Chief David Rahinsky said at Tuesday's city commission meeting.

Last week, police justified their actions by saying they were following protocol used by police agencies across the country when responding to a report where a firearm might be involved, saying that they acted within procedure to draw their service weapons and order individuals to the ground until the situation is sorted out.

"The officers conducted themselves in a professional manner that resulted in a safe outcome for all," Rahinsky said.

In spite of that apology, public comment was filled with emotion, mostly anger. Representatives from church groups, the NAACP, and LINC UP - as well as the boys' mothers - demanded a public apology from the officers involved in the incident. They also called for a review in how police interact with youth.

"We don't want this to happen to nobody else," one of the boy's mothers said. "We ask for a change in protocol so things can be better for these youth growing up."

"I think Grand Rapids is at that point where it's a boilerplate, and we've reached it," said one of the boy's fathers. "I've lived this for 38 years, talking about being in the car driving down the street and [the police] just stare you down."

"This has affected my boys tremendously, where they can't even play basketball comfortable outside of their own home. I'm calm, but I'm very angry."

 

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14 comments

  • Old Bob

    I saw the kids leave the Kroc Center. The same bunch of kids that’s always getting into something. Did they have a gun, I have no idea.
    One of their fathers said ”The boys can’t even play basketball comfortable outside of their own home.”
    That’s too bad, other kids can’t even walk down the street when this group goes by without being harassed.

    I can’t help but think if the Afro American community would spend as much time trying to correct their own problems as they do trying to blame others for their problems their children might grow up to be happier.

  • Old Bob

    I saw the kids leave the Kroc Center. The same bunch of kids that’s always getting into something. Did they have a gun, I have no idea.
    One of their fathers said ”The boys can’t even play basketball comfortable outside of their own home.” That’s too bad, other kids can’t even walk down the street when this group goes by without being harassed.

    I can’t help but think if the effected group would spend as much time trying to correct their own problems as they do trying to blame others for their problems their children might grow up to be happier.

  • Old Bob

    I can’t help but think if the Afro American community would spend as much time trying to correct their own problems as they do trying to blame others for their problems their children might grow up to be happier.

  • Common Cents

    The conversation we should be having is “why do we even have police?” They uphold laws that they don’t understand that are designed to keep the most evil people in positions of control. Police are the engine, gasoline, wheels, and chassis for the machine of evil…they just leave the steering wheel for their masters.

  • J.B.

    Get over it already.
    The police are just trying to react to the situations and conditions that YOU have created in YOUR community.

    These are the same people who when their little bundles of wunders catches a few bullets,
    that are going to scream that the police “don’t do enough” to “protect them” and that “something needs to be done!” and out of a hundred witnesses to the crime no one seen will have seen anything or know anything .etc.
    but lets have a prayer meeting and then march in protest about lack of policing.
    good grief. the police are not the problem..YOU are..

  • G

    Get over it!! Spend the time you wasted on worrying how to treat a group of kids suspected of being armed on finding jobs and fixing your broken community and personal issues!

  • Old Bob

    I saw the group of kids leave the Kroc Center. This same group of kids terrorizes all the neighborhood kids ever chance they get. I am sure they have had contact with the police many times in the past.
    That’s not the kids fault, is their parents fault, poor parenting.

  • Commonsense

    Once again parent (s) and certain racial organizations targeting the police for doing their jobs. Hey everyone, maybe you should look at your own mirrors when its ok for baby’s to have baby’s with multiple daddys. When its ok for a one parent home because both parents are irresponsible. When it’s ok for 12 year olds to be out on the streets unsupervised at night because their 20 year old momma is out hooking up with her next daddy. Tbe police took a call concerning a firearm, in this day and age, they are going to be responding as such. Too bad they “hurt your feelings.” Time to grow up and be an adult instead of blaming everyone else for your poor decisions. Look at crime statistics, the average age of a felon is much lower these days thanks to your idiotic behavior.