GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids city leaders held a press conference Sunday afternoon recapping the events from Saturday night and their plan to keep the city safe in coming days.
Mayor Rosalynn Bliss announced that she is declaring a proclamation of civil emergency, which includes a nighttime curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the next two nights. Members of the community will not be allowed to walk, run, stand, or motor on any alley, street, highway, public property or vacant premise within the city of Grand Rapids.
The civil emergency will last 48 hours, and will allow the city to deploy additional resources including support from the Michigan National Guard. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer authorized a state of emergency and deployed the state's guardsmen to help with the curfew enforcement and protection of property.
"My number one priority is safety and ensuring we are doing everything that we can to ensure your safety," said Bliss.
People will be allowed to travel to and from work during the curfew.
A peaceful protest that drew 3,000 to 4,500 people to downtown Grand Rapids Saturday devolved into violence as the crowds thinned and the night progressed. Buildings were vandalized, windows were smashed throughout downtown, and seven police cars were set on fire. There were no serious injuries among city staff.
Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington said the estimates of the crowd size make the city's protest larger than any other in the state of Michigan. He said even though the protest organizers had the best intentions to have the protest be non-violent, there was no planned march route ahead of time.
Washington noted the restraint and patience that was on display from police Saturday night. Grand Rapids was assisted by Michigan State Police, Wyoming Police and the Kent County Sheriff's Office.
"Given the significant amount of damage and the potential for harm to people, the police department will be escalating its use of its response," said Washington.
RELATED: Mayor Bliss says violent protests in Grand Rapids are 'unacceptable' calls for 'unity in our city'
The city manager emphasized that there will be a heavy presence of law enforcement Sunday night and will be using every appropriate measure to curb criminal activity.
"This is not the night. You want do not want to try it. This is not the night," Washington said. With the help of the National Guard, there will be a significant increase in law enforcement patrolling the city.
Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Payne said there were seven arrests made Saturday night, and the department is using photos taken at the event to identify those that were responsible for the violence.
Anyone in violation of the curfew will be charged with a misdemeanor, which will result in up to 90 days in jail and/or up to $500 in fines. The curfew is temporary, but Bliss said it could be extended.
"As the city commission comes back together Tuesday, we will talk about whether that needs to be extended. A nighttime curfew is necessary in order to prevent additional violence and to maintain order. I urge every one of you in this community to come together and help make sure that everyone is safe. And that we don't see violence anywhere in our city," said Bliss.
Watch the full press briefing here:
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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