GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Grand Rapids Police Department issued a statement early Sunday morning, responding to the violence that erupted overnight.
The evening started with a protest that was organized following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Organizers of the march said they wanted it to be peaceful.
However, as the night went on, the crowd thinned and became more violent. Michigan State Police, the Kent County Sheriff's Office, Wyoming Police and Grand Rapids Police all helped secure downtown streets after riots broke out. Some people smash windows of businesses, cars were set on fire and the police building was vandalized.
"Our department is saddened by the events that have transpired downtown over the past 9 hours. What started as a peaceful rally was distorted into senseless acts of vandalism and violence. We know these pointless crimes do not represent who we are as a city," the statement read.
Sgt. Dan Adams with the GRPD said disappointing was not a strong enough word when responding to the rioters. "This is not going to be productive for what the earlier organizers were trying to accomplish. And I have actually had contact with them they reached out to us thanked us for our professionalism, decorum, restraint. So now what we are seeing is people taking advantage of this and using it as an opportunity to damage our city and we just cant stand by for that.”
GRPD said it will "work around the clock" to ensure everyone involved in criminal activity will be held accountable.
"They moved into the phase of vandalism for vandalism’s sake. And we moved from the phase of protecting the peace now it’s whether it’s going to be mass arrest or whether it’s going to be following up and investigating every complaint, every broken window, every dumpster fire," said Adams. "There’s a lot of cameras out there. There’s a lot of people taking selfies and for some reason are proud of what they are doing. That’s not Grand Rapids, that’s not this community. Our detectives are ready to follow up on every single one of those.”
"Everyone in our community deserves to live in safety and peace," police said.
Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalyn Bliss said the protest that preceded the evening's riots and looting was meant to be peaceful and allow people to stand in solidarity with Minneapolis.
"The violence, chaos and destruction that replaced the peaceful protest are unacceptable," she said in a statement. "This does not represent who we are or Grand Rapids. We are a compassionate community that comes together to have hard conversations and solve tough issues."
GRPD said the community can expect to hear from city officials on Sunday regarding plans for "maintaining calm and security." Bliss said Saturday night that the city would consider instituting a curfew.
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