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'Defund Police' spray painted at Grand Rapids City Hall parking garage

The messages were discovered in the days after a proposal to reduce the police department's budget was blocked.
Credit: City of Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — Messages of "Defund Police" were spray painted in Grand Rapids this week, according to the city.  

In a news release, a city spokesperson said the messages were first spray painted in the Grand Rapids City Hall parking garage and then near the residences and neighborhoods of some Grand Rapids officials. They said the graffiti was found on the driveways and sidewalks Saturday. 

The "defund police" messages come after a six-hour city commission meeting Tuesday where commissioners ended up not voting on a proposed motion of lowering the police department's budget. Multiple groups in the city have come together to call for the lowering of the police department's budget to 32%, the legal requirement under the city charter.

Second Ward City Commissioner Milinda Ysasi proposed the amendment to the budget, which would lower the department's current 38.6% of the operating fund by about $9 million. Ysasi first made the proposal during a morning committee meeting and it was supported by Second Ward Commissioner Joe Jones. 

However, the motion was later withdrawn with the plan for it to be brought back up during the evening city commission meeting. After over 100 members of the public spoke on the topic for over four hours, commissioners were informed by City Attorney Anita Hitchcock that they could not vote on the amendment and that City Manager Mark Washington would need to initiate the budget change. 

Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne wrote in statement that the graffiti, "crosses the line."

“There is a process in place for determining our department’s budget, and we must let that process play out. There are more productive ways to exercise your right to free speech and have your voice be heard. Vandalism and violating the law are not the answer," Payne said. 

After the motion was blocked last minute at Tuesday's meeting, members of the community that have been calling for more significant changes in the budget over the past month were frustrated. There was no immediate indication of next steps.

The city also shared a photo of a banner saying "Defund GRPD," hung up outside city hall within the news release.

City officials said they are looking to identify those responsible for the spray painting. 

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