Racial tensions discussed at Grand Rapids City Commission meeting

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— It’s a story out of Grand Rapids that’s gotten national attention featured on major news networks: five unarmed black kids held at gunpoint by police officers after they say they allegedly matched the description of someone leaving a fight with a gun.

That incident combined with a traffic stop study showing black drivers are nearly twice as likely to be pulled over in Grand Rapids had a lot of people talking about racial tensions during Tuesday night’s commission meeting.

Even though the traffic study and what steps the commission was going to take were initially on the agenda for tonight, it was taken off the list for discussion after the commission said that they weren’t ready to vote on it yet.  It was a move that sparked even more debate, with plenty of people, including members of the NAACP, coming out to share their opinions.

In fact, some people said that it should be something they are working to push forward immediately.

Many cited tensions are high between the black community and the police and any delay on making changes following that traffic study could only make things worse, especially in light of that other incident involving five boys. While police have apologized for that and said protocol was followed, many say relations with the department still have a ways to go.

Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said this is a main priority of theirs, but they want to move forward in the correct way. They said a lot of things in the recommendations will cost money, and they want to make sure they are spending it in a way that will make a significant impact.

That traffic stop study was part of a 12 point plan that city implemented to increase the transparency in the police department.

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  • Joe

    The national news didn’t cover the second incident last week where the kids actually had guns.
    Come on. Our cops did exactly what was right.

  • learnedmylesson25

    Why would there be tension if no one is doing anything wrong?My suggestion to mayor Bliss,is to move into a “nice”section of the city for a week or month.Say…Sixth and Alpine or Watson and Bridge or Butterworth or Straight street or McReynolds and 5th st.(I could name hundreds of other streets).Then tell the citizens about how discriminatory police are–after you spend time with those you are giving a pass.These areas–and many more have become slums and crime areas-thanks to Heartwell and Bliss’ policies of letting the neighborhoods
    become rundown.Building a low income complex on 3rd/Stocking is giving approval to more decay and crime in the Stocking area.Has she given up on the West Side?What needs to be done is some bulldozing,as they’ve done in Detroit.Then rebuild some nice new houses to restore things the way they used to be.Doctors,nurses and highly educated people with good incomes and no crime potential would LOVE to move into that kind of area.The way it’s going now,however,we will be “like Ferguson” in 5 years or earlier.

  • Old Bob

    It sounds to me like the city has finally come to its scenes. They have wasted enough time and money on this subject, it’s time to move on. Enforce the laws as written without exception.

    There is a small segment of the black community that’s going to cry racial discrimination regardless. They will never be happy. The black community will never rid itself of racial discrimination until they rid themselves of this segment of the black community. Every time something doesn’t go the way these people want it to go, they cry discrimination. It’s time for them to grow up, bad thing happen bad things happen to everyone.

  • steve

    Until many in the black community take a real good look in the mirror and realize that as much as the whites and cops are at fault, they are as well. They perceive others as being in the wrong, and not themselves. Until everybody affected by the racial problem in Grand Rapids stands up and say they may be part of the problem, things will never get better. Never.