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GR Police: 7 arrests made in Saturday, some involved in violence 'were not local'

Police will be escalating their presence within the city on Sunday and Monday night in the wake of violent riots.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne said seven people were arrested during Saturday night's riots and violence. And his department is working on identifying more people who were responsible for criminal activity. 

Payne also said that not everyone who was involved is from the city. 

"We're trying to identify those that were involved. In fact, there were arrests made, and we have identified others from pictures that were sent to us. But what I know so far is that there weren't people that were not local that were involved in activity," the police chief said. He did not indicate yet how many were not from Grand Rapids. 

The events started peacefully on Saturday evening when a protest brought out thousands of people who rallied against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death. But as the crowds thinned, the tensions escalated and violence broke out. Seven police cars were burned overnight, five from Wyoming and two from Grand Rapids. 

City officials said there were no serious injuries to members of the community or law enforcement. However, 100 businesses were impacted by damage. In addition to the car fires, there were three structure fires and several dumpster fires. 

RELATED: Riots break out in Grand Rapids after march

The Grand Rapids Police Department was assisted by the Kent County Sheriff's Office, Michigan State Police and Wyoming Police to quell the violence and secure the streets. Law enforcement addressed the riots with an advancing barricade. 

"I know there are questions about why we didn't have more officers more aggressively respond to some of the violators and there are reasons. Last night, one of the first places we were not prepared for the march, the police department headquarters was under attack," said Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington. 

Protesters initially gathered in front of the police headquarters on Monroe Center before a crowd moved to another entrance on Fulton Street. 

"The entryways of both, people were trying to compromise the department and replicate what was being done in other cities and we would not allow that to happen. That took a tremendous amount of resources, but we still had other officers deployed throughout the downtown area. Once we were able to secure the department headquarters you saw then increased deployment and other officers throughout the downtown area," said Washington. 

Crowd estimates show that about 3,000 to 4,500 people showed up for the march, which Washington said was larger than demonstrations in the city of Detroit. 

Payne said they are using photos from Saturday night's event to identify those who committed crimes. The city has also implemented a curfew for the next two nights from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. Mayor Rosalynn Bliss declared a proclamation of civil emergency to deploy additional resources to help law enforcement, including assistance from the National Guard. 

If you have any photos or video evidence from the riots to submit to police, you can share them at this online portal. You can also submit tips to Silent Observer at 774-2345. 

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