GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Mayor George Heartwell is speaking out after Tuesday night’s City Commission meeting was disrupted by supporters of The Rapid’s Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU).
The meeting came to an early end after protestors chanted during the regularly scheduled meeting and layed down in front of the Commission table.
Heartwell was not at the meeting, as he was in Lansing, but said in a press statement and a video posted on the city’s Facebook page that “future inappropriate behavior during City Commission meetings will not be tolerated.”
“The City of Grand Rapids values an open, transparent and democratic process in conducting its City Commission meetings. The City is charged with conducting the people’s business during these public meetings in an orderly and respectful manner. The brazen tactics that were used last evening are counterproductive. The actions were certainly not respectful and future displays of this manner will not be tolerated.
“The actions last evening were selfish and disrespectful to fellow citizens who, as a result of the disruption and protest, were not provided the opportunity to address their particular issues to the City Commission.”
In a response on the city’s Facebook post, Brandon Wright writes:
“First, we did not intend to force the meeting to end. We fully intended to cooperate with law enforcement/security officials and vacate the premises when asked. The meeting was adjourned before we could be escorted out, in order to show our cause in a negative light.
Second, last night’s demonstration was the culmination of REPEATED attempts to get ITP to negotiate in good faith. We didn’t decide to crash a meeting out of nowhwere. The media has dutifully reported on lur campaign every step of the way, and the incessant snubbing and civil rights violations on the part of ITP/The Rapid are matters of public record.”
The ATU is currently without a contract with the City of Grand Rapids. Negotiations have stalled over pension benefits and contributions.