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Protesters march, faith leaders call for peace ahead of GRPD video release



GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Faith leaders called for peace and protesters called for justice Tuesday as the community anticipates the release of footage of a Grand Rapids officer shooting and killed Patrick Lyoya.

The video will be released during a press conference at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Ahead of a Grand Rapids City Commission meeting Tuesday night, over 100 demonstrators walked from Rosa Parks Circle to Calder Plaza. The march was organized by the Royal Black Panther Party.

Protesters called for justice for 26-year-old Lyoya and asked for accountability from city leaders. They said the video should have already been released.

The group said they want as many people as possible to see what happened on April 4.

“We want the world to see who did this, so the other police, they can learn,” said DJ Lyon, a friend of Lyoya.

Among those in attendance was Jimmy Barwan, the brother of Lyoya.

“Out of nowhere my brother is killed just like that. Why is that?” he said. “We’re fighting for justice, we’re fighting for justice for all of us, not only my brother at the end of the day, because we’re all human beings.”

During public comment at the city commission meeting, many community members stepped up to voice their concerns about the handling of the shooting investigation.

Several people called out police and city leaders. They said they’re trying to cover up what’s in the video.

Many called for the resignation of the commission, the city manager and GRPD leadership. They said the city failed to prevent Lyoya’s death.

“I don’t know how you sleep at night. I could not sleep at night knowing that I took someone’s father, son, brother, cousin, best friend, boyfriend, community member, church goer away from them. Rest in power Patrick Lyoya,” one woman said.

FAITH LEADERS CALL FOR PEACE

Also on Tuesday evening, Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack was joined at MLK Park by faith leaders Jerry Bishop with Lifequest, James Stokes with New Life Tabernacle, Jathan Austin with Bethel Empowerment Church, Willie Gholston II with First Community AME, Dennis McMurray with Renaissance Church of God in Christ, David Wright with Renaissance Church of God in Christ, Abdus-Salaam Muhammad with Second Step Ministry of North America and Robert Dean with New Life Church of God in Christ.

The group called for peace and justice.

“Tomorrow you will see a video that is going horrific, if you ask me. Very horrific. It’s going to be heartbreaking, it’s going to move you to emotion,” Womack said. “But we ask you to still be intellectual as you join us looking for peace for the Lyoya family.”

Bishop with Lifequest asked the community to trust the group’s leadership.

“Now we’re asking you to trust us when we make a plea to you, all of Grand Rapids, that in the hours to come with the release of this horrific video, that now this is our time to be a world class community with no violence, no vandalism, no injuries,” Bishop said. “We’re angry, we’re hurt, we’ve been here before.

“The team that I’m with tonight, we’ve been at the table for years advocating for policy change, we’ve advocated training change, hiring change. What we need you to do is trust us in our leadership when we’re asking you as a team, we’re asking you collectively as a community, to stand down on violence, thoughts of violence and any level of community vandalism.”

Austin with Bethel Empowerment Church echoed the calls for peace and said that doesn’t mean the group isn’t calling for accountability.

“We cannot allow people to feel like because we’re asking them to pray, because we’re asking them not to be violent, because we’re asking them not to vandalize, that that does not mean we’re getting ready to hold people accountable. We’re going to hold all parties accountable,” Austin said.

— News 8’s Kyle Mitchell and Whitney Burney contributed to this report.





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