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Silent march planned in Grand Rapids to protest police brutality

Organizers of the Grand Rapids march have emphasized that this event will be peaceful and non-violent.
Credit: Aaron Russman, WZZM
Grand Rapids' Rosa Parks Circle

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Protests are happening around the country demanding justice after Monday's death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd died after being pinned for several minutes by a Minneapolis police officer. 

A silent march has been organized for Grand Rapids on Saturday evening, and event organizers say it is to protest police brutality. 

The Facebook event has more than 5,000 people who said they are interested in attending the march at Rosa Parks Circle. The event page says everyone who attends is required to wear a mask and the march will enforce social distancing. 

Protests in Minneapolis turned violent over the past couple of days, with riots breaking out. However, organizers of the Grand Rapids march have emphasized that this event will be peaceful and non-violent. They say the purpose of this local event is to stand in solidarity with those in Minneapolis. 

Grand Rapids Police said they stand "ready to serve our community by protecting and respecting everyone’s right to free expression while maintaining a safe and secure community for all."

Saturday, Police Chief Eric Payne said it's important for police to be in contact with the organizers of these events. 

"We fully support people expressing their first amendment rights. We will, as with other events, have a police presence. But that's merely what our desire is that it is just a police presence to keep everyone safe," he said. "There's potential counter protests so we're always on guard for that. We've been assured it's going to be a peaceful event, and I believe the Grand Rapids Community will step up and be able to go out and have their first amendment rights heard, and it'll be peaceful." 

The event for the march also notes several other recent incidences of violence against black people, including Ahmaud Arbery, Shatina Grady and Breonna Taylor. 

Along with this protest, two similar events are scheduled for Saturday in Kalamazoo. 

Protesters are gathering at 12 p.m. at the front of the Kalamazoo Court House for an event called #BlackLivesMatter. The event will be a peaceful protest. The event page invites residents from cities within driving distance, such as Battle Creek, Grand Rapids and South Haven.

At 6 p.m., protesters are gathering at the intersection of Michigan Ave. and Kalamazoo Mall for an event called Justice for George. According to the event page, a march will start at 6:30 and end at 7. At 8 p.m., a candlelit vigil will be held to honor lives lost. “This is a peaceful demonstration showing our solidarity for Black PoC,” the event page reads. “This group is intended for discussion and organization.”

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