GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A sea of people filled the streets Saturday night. Easter Sunday was more subdued, and the crowd didn't march, but the message remained the same: Justice for Patrick Lyoya.
Community members have gathered consistently since Tuesday in Downtown Grand Rapids. First the call was for the dash and body camera footage of Patrick Lyoya's killing by a Grand Rapids Police officer to be released. When it was released on Wednesday, the call changed to demanding the name of the officer responsible.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom has said the officer's name will not be released because they have not been charged with a crime. Michigan State Police is currently investigating the officer's use of deadly force. Patrick's family has reinforced calls for the officer to be identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Saturday's march echoed that call. Hundreds met at the corner of Pearl and Monroe center — the start of Breonna Taylor Way. First hearing from speakers and organizers starting at 5 p.m., by 5:30 they were on the move, organized and aided by Black Panther parties from other parts of Michigan and nearby states, as well as organizers like Cortez Rice, who came in from Minnesota to provide guidance and advice.
"I marched from Minneapolis to Washington DC, so I’m very familiar with the police and their tactics," Rice said. That experience came in handy Saturday. The march was free from violence, but roadblocks set by police as well as occasional hecklers raised the temperature at times.
"If anything they were the ones that were sitting there wasting taxpayer dollars," Rice said. "Having to follow us, playing cat and mouse when we are doing nothing but peacefully protesting."
The march lasted around four hours, making multiple laps of the city passing by City Hall, GRPD headquarters and DeVos Place. The end of the march was not the finale of the night, as a block party kicked off at the Breeway entrance.
"He loved to dance," Rice said of Patrick Lyoya. The block party was filled with music and dancing as a way to honor Patrick. "He had two daughters, a lot of people failed to realize and actually share his story and who Patrick was."
Easter Sunday in downtown Grand Rapids was very quiet, even up to the expected start time of 5 p.m. A few people trickled in at a time, until a small crowd of a few dozen people gathered by 6 p.m.
The message Sunday, in addition to continued calls for justice and transparency, was one of continued stamina. On the sixth straight day of gathering, speakers and organizers touched on the importance of keeping the movement alive.
"It’s never going to die down, they're still blowing it up on social media," said Deandre Jones, a community activist. "There’s people that still care about this and wont let this die down until we get some type of justice."
Organizers spoke about the importance of a small crowd in keeping that message going. They continued chanting Patrick Lyoya's name, calling for the officer's name to be released, and discussing the importance of voter registration.
Another overall theme from the weekend, as well as the week of demonstrations before it, is the desire for police killings like this to end.
"When Breonna Taylor died, when Duante Wright died, when George Floyd died," Jones said, "I was out here marching and protesting."
"Enough always has been enough," Rice said, echoing that message. "The people are tired. We don’t want to have to keep on doing this, we don’t want to have to say other peoples' names again."
Another march is planned for Thursday at 4 p.m. in Lansing, coordinated by County Commissioner Robert S Womack.
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