Tag Archive | CIty of Grand Rapids

Clean Slate GR Expungement Program May 13

The City of Grand Rapids Office of Oversight and Public Accountability (OPA) and its community partners will host its second annual Clean Slate GR Expungement Program Saturday, May 13. The 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. event – at the Salvation Army Kroc Center, 2500 Division Ave. S, Grand Rapids, MI 49507 – welcomes guests interested in learning more about the State of Michigan’s Clean Slate process.

For those who wish to attend this event, preregistration is required. Registration is now open through April 12 at grandrapidsmi.gov/OPA. The site contains information on event expectations, expungement eligibility, benefits of attending, a participant pre-registration form and a volunteer sign-up form.

Brandon Davis, director of oversight and public accountability, said he is excited to once again host this event which last year was “amazingly successful in helping more than 500 people navigate the criminal expungement process. Those efforts gave these individuals – many for the first time – the opportunity to do things like get stable housing and find meaningful employment.

“This expungement program is one of the restorative justice efforts that OPA is implementing to advance equity and justice in our criminal justice and public safety systems. This will make a positive impact on the lives of members of our community, and that is what this work is all about. We are doing life-changing work and I am proud to do it.”

This year’s Clean Slate event will also feature a social equity job program co-sponsored by JARS Cannabis. Multiple felon-friendly employers from inside and outside of the cannabis industry will be present and prepared to offer jobs to Clean Slate participants. Those companies are hiring for various dispensary-based positions, such as budtenders, delivery drivers/curbside specialists, and packagers. JARS will also offer job readiness training to individuals interested in participating.

Michigan’s “Clean Slate” legislation, signed in 2020, allows Michiganders to expunge eligible criminal records. The law made Michigan a national leader in criminal record-sealing policy and includes an automatic expungement provision that eliminates certain crimes from personal records as of April 11, 2023. The legislation and its impacts align with commitments contained in the City’s and OPA’s strategic plans to advance equity by identifying systemic issues that cause disparate outcomes in the justice system and implementing strategies to address them.

The City’s Clean Slate GR Expungement Program will not only provide and assist those who wish to file with the State for possible expungement but will assist with skill building for job interviews, provide resume reviews and distribute information on a variety of available community resources. Agencies representing veteran services, voting rights, food pantries, substance abuse treatment, housing and shelter will partner with the City during the event.

Michigan’s Clean Slate law allows first-time offenders of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) convictions (in which no one was injured), eligible to petition for expungement five years after their probation ends. The new law also makes all misdemeanors for marijuana possession and usage eligible for expungement, impacting an estimated 240,000 people. The law expands eligibility to many people who were not previously eligible because they had more than one felony and more than two misdemeanors or unpaid court fines/fees.

The Clean Slate law allows up to three felonies to be set aside in a lifetime and places a no-lifetime limit on misdemeanors. It reduces the waiting period to three years for misdemeanors and permits applications for multiple felonies after seven years.

A person is eligible for record clearance in Michigan even if they have unpaid court-assigned fines and fees. Life offenses and felony criminal sexual conduct convictions are not eligible under Clean Slate. The new law expanded eligibility to include most drug, property, and traffic offenses.

Gun Buyback on Sept. 17

The Safe Alliances for Everyone (SAFE) Task Force and Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) will cohost a gun buyback program 1 to 3 pm on Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Burton Heights Lot, 30 Burton St SW. No appointment is necessary.

Those wishing to dispose of their firearms are asked to transport unloaded weapons in the trunk of a vehicle. Personnel will not ask questions or collect any personal information. In exchange for each firearm turned in, residents will receive a gift card ranging from $100 for revolvers, shotguns and rifles to $200 for assault-type rifles and semi-automatic handguns. Black powder firearms will be accepted for disposal, but gift cards will not be given for such. Quantities of gift cards are limited and subject to availability.

The buyback program is part of SAFE’s and the GRPD’s ongoing efforts to reduce violent crime in the city. The event is funded through a $40,000 contribution from the SAFE Task Force. In 2020, during its first two buyback events, SAFE and the GRPD collected a total of 267 firearms. This year, through its enforcement efforts, the GRPD has taken more than 360 illegal guns off the street.

Volunteer attorneys needed to assist at April 2 Grand Rapids expungement event

The City of Grand Rapids Office of Oversight and Public Accountability is seeking attorney volunteers to assist with its Free Expungement Event on April 2. As more than 400 community members have registered in hopes of obtaining an expungement, OPA is seeking assistance from lawyers across the State of Michigan to help during the event to address the overwhelming response.

Brandon D. Davis, director of oversight and public accountability for the City of Grand Rapids, said Michigan lawyers can volunteer for the April 2 clinic by clicking here or visiting: https://www.grandrapidsmi.gov/Government/Departments/Office-of-Oversight-and-Public-Accountability/Clean-Slate-GR-Volunteer-Form.

The expungement event takes place between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation, 1530 Madison Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507.

The Expungement Clinic will welcome and work with whomever arrives before 4 p.m. Attorneys are welcomed to work shorter shifts based on their availability. The volunteer form has three shift options:

  • Morning Shift (8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
  • Afternoon Shift (12:30 to 5 p.m.)
  • All Day Shift (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Any attorney can volunteer, regardless of practice area.

“Any amount of time that one can give to this effort would be greatly appreciated,” Davis said. “We thank those who have stepped up or are considering volunteering for helping us to change the lives of the members of our community.”

OPA will be offering a one-hour virtual training session at 3 p.m. Friday, April 1 to provide attorney volunteers with the information needed to assist community members. Training is not required, but it is available for those who desire to attend.  OPA can make other arrangements to provide volunteers with the necessary information if they cannot attend training.  Attorney volunteers will review both Certified Records of Conviction, and ICHATS.  Attorneys will also assist participants with completing SCAO approved expungement forms.  Attorneys will not be expected to represent participants in court or in any other representative capacity.

Those who have questions about the event and their role as a volunteer can contact Davis at (616) 456-4OPA or via email at bddavis@grand-rapids.mi.us.

Teens help teens stay warm with coat drive

The Mayor’s Youth Council has a coat drive running through March 4 to benefit Grand Rapids teens. New coats, gloves and other winter accessories can be dropped off at eight Grand Rapids Public Library locations.  Donated items will then be distributed to the following community-based organizations: Baxter Community Center, Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan and AYA Youth Collective.

“Every young person deserves to have a warm coat — period,” Shannon L. Harris, OCC executive director, said. “We especially want to reach teens and young adults who are unhoused and/or experiencing poverty; and I’m thrilled to see teens helping each other to ensure basic needs are being met.”

The Mayor’s Youth Council consists of local teens in grades 9 through 12 who spend a school year learning about the functions of city government. They also give voice to issues of concern to them by facilitating monthly meetings with the mayor, hosting an annual KidSpeak youth forum at City Hall and participating in community service projects.  

Grand Rapids students invited to write about and celebrate the life of Rosa Parks

Annual contest offers prizes up to $500 Rosa Parks Essay Contest image

As part of their mission to provide continuing education on the impact that Rosa Parks had on this nation, the Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission (CRC) and the Office of Equity and Engagement are once again hosting the Rosa Parks Essay Writing Contest. Students in grades 6-12 attending a school in Grand Rapids are encouraged to write an essay and reflect on this year’s prompt:

“Healing Without Hate.” There will never be a time in American history where the heroism of Rosa Parks will be forgotten. Although she did not plan to become a hero, her heroic actions helped this nation fight racism and hate while creating pathways to healing. How will you practice acts of healing to combat injustices and inequities to keep the legacy of Rosa Parks alive? 

Winning student authors will be awarded $500-first place, $300-second place and $200-third place prizes for each group (6-8 grade, 9-10 grade and 11-12 grade).

Essay submissions are due October 21 via crc@grcity.us or must be postmarked by that date. The winning essays will be announced at 3 p.m. December 2 at Grand Rapids City Hall, City Commission Chambers, 9th Floor, 300 Monroe NW, Grand Rapids. For more details visit https://bit.ly/GREQUITY.

December 1 marks the 66th anniversary of the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. In 2010, the City of Grand Rapids dedicated a sculpture to honor the life of this brave woman who changed American society in a monumental way. The bronze monument standing at the entrance of Rosa Parks Circle, 135 Monroe Center St NW, Grand Rapids, is a message to those who continue her work, uphold her philosophy, and demonstrate dignity with the pride and courage with perseverance.

GR Juneteenth 2021: Dickinson Park Dunumba “Power In the People!”

Independence Day Celebration
Sat. June19, 2021

12:30 p.m. Parade begins at 12:30 Pm

1 p.m. Opening ceremony  

Dickinson Buffer Park                         
1635 Linden Street SE GR, MI 49507

Bring your family and friends to this FREE, fun in the sun event. Walk, jog, or ride your bike. Take Rapid Transit #3 (Madison) or #4 (Eastern) Enjoy refreshments, bring a drum, lawn chair, jump rope, Free throw challenge and more.

Sponsored by; (ADDPA), City of Grand Rapids and West Michigan Jewels Of Africa LLC

For information email info.msjewelshair@att.net or text (616)633-8148

Youth Summer Jobs Opportunity

Ages 15 – 24. Application deadline Friday, April 30. Apply HERE.

Building on the success of employing more than 350 youth last summer, the City and area businesses – are poised to employ 650 Grand Rapids residents ages 15 to 24 beginning June 14.

GRow1000 will offer young people 120-hour work experiences over six weeks from June 14 through July 23. Youth participants will work 20 hours each week earning $10 an hour for those under 18 and $13 an hour for those 18 and older. To participate, individuals must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be between 15 and 24 years old as of June 14
  • Live in the city of Grand Rapids
  • Be eligible to work in the U.S.

Youth may apply now through Friday, April 30, HERE. Required paid training begins May 18. Bus passes will be available as needed.  As the employer of record, the City will process youth applications and match them to available positions.

“We know planning for the summer seems so far in the distance especially with these cold temperatures so youth may not realize that summer is actually right around the corner,” said Shannon Harris, interim executive director of Our Community’s Children. “This is why we’re extending the youth application date to Friday, April 30th. This will be an experience they will never forget, and it just may be what’s needed to ignite their dreams.”

Participants in GRow1000 will have the opportunity to gain work experience and social capital in the following sectors: local government, manufacturing, healthcare, construction, youth development, community development, tech, video production, finance, the arts, public relations, higher education and more. This accounts for 450 jobs with more registering daily.

More than 60 businesses and organizations have committed to hosting a GRow1000 youth and an additional 21 businesses, foundations and individuals have committed to supporting the program financially.

City of Grand Rapids issues media release re: state of civil emergency

unnamed (5)Mayor Rosalynn Bliss today signed a proclamation declaring a state of civil emergency and enacted a curfew in the City of Grand Rapids for the next 48 hours. The measures come following a night of violent protests and civil unrest downtown that resulted in substantial property damage and imminent threats of harm to community members and public safety officers.

The curfew is in effect 7 p.m. today through 5 a.m. Monday and 7 p.m. Monday through 5 a.m. Tuesday. It prevents community members from walking, running, loitering, standing or motoring upon any alley, street, highway, public property or vacant premises within the city of Grand Rapids. Community members may travel to and from work during the curfew.

All community members are urged to adhere to the curfew to help protect public safety.

For more on the curfew, CLICK HERE.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has authorized the state of emergency and has deployed the Michigan National Guard to assist with curfew enforcement and the protection of property in Grand Rapids.

“Our city and our partners have taken numerous actions to respond to and protect against this threat,” Bliss said. “We implore our residents and visitors to abide by this curfew so we can restore order and protect our residents. What happened in our city last night is beyond heartbreaking and is unacceptable. Violence, chaos and destruction have no place in our city. This does not represent who we are.

“Despite the sadness that overcame me last night, I am heartened by all the volunteers, downtown business and property owners, DGRI employees and staff from our Public Works and Parks department who came downtown first thing this morning to start the cleanup. They brought brooms, buckets and a desire to take back our city – and we are forever grateful. This is Grand Rapids – people coming together to take care of our city.”

During an afternoon media briefing this afternoon, City officials provided a recap of Saturday night’s events:

  • No injuries to community members or sworn officers
  • No loss of life
  • Seven arrests
  • 100 businesses impacted
  • Seven vehicle fires
  • Three structure fires
  • Several dumpster/trash fires

“What happened last night was totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “Our law enforcement officers will use every means of appropriate force to prevent another night of unrest.”

Washington addressed concerns alleging the Grand Rapids Police Department did not do enough to stop the violence and did not make more arrests.

“Our police headquarters was under attack last night. Protesters were trying to rush in and disrupt our command center. Our officers and partner agencies were focused on public safety and keeping protesters from impacting those operations. I am proud of our police department’s response to the events that transpired last night and I am grateful for their efforts to prevent injuries or loss of life – and they did this in a professional and respectful manner.”


Police Chief Eric Payne said he appreciated the overwhelming community support shown to his officers over the past 24 hours.


“Public safety is our top priority, and we are committed to keeping everyone safe at all times – especially under challenging circumstances,” he said. “I want to assure the community that we are using all of our tools to identify the perpetrators responsible for last night’s violence, put their faces out in public in the coming days and ask for the community’s help to identify them.


“I am very proud of the professionalism our officers displayed last night in light of some very difficult situations. I welcome the support of our partner agencies to enforce our curfew over the next couple of nights and trust the community will come together to end this unrest.”


Anyone with information about the criminal acts that took place Saturday are asked to contact the Grand Rapids Police Department at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 774-2345 or at silentobserver.org.


To read the full state of civil emergency declaration, CLICK HERE.


To read the temporary curfew order, CLICK HERE.


# # #


La ciudad de Grand Rapids declara estado de emergencia civil, promulga toque de queda


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. –– La alcaldesa Rosalynn Bliss firmó hoy una proclamación declarando un estado de emergencia civil y promulgó un toque de queda en la ciudad de Grand Rapids por las próximas 48 horas. Las medidas se producen después de una noche de protestas violentas y disturbios civiles en el centro que resultaron en daños sustanciales a la propiedad y amenazas inminentes de daño a los miembros de la comunidad y los oficiales de seguridad pública.


El toque de queda está vigente a las 7 p.m. hoy hasta las 5 a.m., lunes y 7 p.m. de lunes a 5 a.m. martes. Impide que los miembros de la comunidad caminen, corran, merodeen, se paren o conduzcan por cualquier callejón, calle, carretera, propiedad pública o local vacante dentro de la ciudad de Grand Rapids. Los miembros de la comunidad pueden viajar hacia y desde el trabajo durante el toque de queda.


Se insta a todos los miembros de la comunidad a cumplir con el toque de queda para ayudar a proteger la seguridad pública.


Para más información sobre el toque de queda, HAGA CLIC AQUÍ


La gobernadora Gretchen Whitmer ha autorizado el estado de emergencia y ha desplegado la Guardia Nacional de Michigan para ayudar con la aplicación del toque de queda y la protección de la propiedad en Grand Rapids.


“Nuestra ciudad y nuestros socios han tomado numerosas medidas para responder y protegerse contra esta amenaza”, dijo Bliss. “Imploramos a nuestros residentes y visitantes que cumplan con este toque de queda para que podamos restablecer el orden y proteger a nuestros residentes. Lo que sucedió en nuestra ciudad anoche es más que desgarrador y es inaceptable. La violencia, el caos y la destrucción no tienen lugar en nuestra ciudad. Esto no representa quienes somos.


“A pesar de la tristeza que me supero anoche, me animaron todos los voluntarios, dueños de negocios y propiedades del centro, empleados de DGRI y el personal de nuestro departamento de Obras Públicas y Parques que vinieron al centro esta mañana para comenzar la limpieza. Trajeron escobas, cubos y un deseo de recuperar nuestra ciudad, y estamos eternamente agradecidos. Esto es Grand Rapids: personas que se unen para cuidar a nuestra ciudad “.


Durante una sesión informativa de prensa esta tarde, los funcionarios de la Ciudad proporcionaron un resumen de los eventos del sábado por la noche:

  • Sin lesiones a miembros de la comunidad o oficiales jurados.
  • Sin pérdida de vidas
  • Siete arrestos
  • 100 empresas impactadas
  • Siete incendios de vehículos
  • Tres incendios estructurales
  • Varios basureros / incendios de basura


“Lo que sucedió anoche fue totalmente inaceptable y no será tolerado”, dijo el gerente de la ciudad Mark Washington. “Nuestros agentes del orden público utilizarán todos los medios de fuerza apropiados para evitar otra noche de disturbios”.


Washington abordó las preocupaciones alegando que el Departamento de Policía de Grand Rapids no hizo lo suficiente para detener la violencia y no realizó más arrestos.


“Nuestra sede de la policía fue atacada anoche. Los manifestantes estaban tratando de precipitarse e interrumpir nuestro centro de comando. Nuestros oficiales y agencias asociadas se centraron en la seguridad pública y en evitar que los manifestantes impactaran esas operaciones. Estoy orgulloso de la respuesta de nuestro departamento de policía a los eventos que ocurrieron anoche y estoy agradecido por sus esfuerzos para prevenir lesiones o pérdida de vidas, y lo hicieron de manera profesional y respetuosa “.


El jefe de policía Eric Payne dijo que apreciaba el abrumador apoyo de la comunidad mostrado a sus oficiales en las últimas 24 horas.


“La seguridad pública es nuestra principal prioridad, y estamos comprometidos a mantener a todos seguros en todo momento, especialmente en circunstancias difíciles”, dijo. “Quiero asegurarle a la comunidad que estamos utilizando todas nuestras herramientas para identificar a los responsables de la violencia de la noche anterior, poner sus rostros en público en los próximos días y pedir la ayuda de la comunidad para identificarlos.


“Estoy muy orgulloso de la profesionalidad que nuestros oficiales mostraron anoche a la luz de algunas situaciones muy difíciles. Agradezco el apoyo de nuestras agencias asociadas para hacer cumplir nuestro toque de queda durante las próximas dos noches y confío en que la comunidad se unirá para poner fin a este malestar ”.


Cualquier persona con información sobre los actos delictivos que tuvieron lugar el sábado debe comunicarse con el Departamento de Policía de Grand Rapids al 616.456.3400 o al Observador Silencioso al 774-2345 o al silentobserver.org.


Estzos documentos estaran disponibles en la pagina web de la Ciudad el domingo por la noche.


Community invited to re-imagine downtown streets

City will hold design engagement events for Ottawa, Ionia and Fulton on Dec. 9-12

Reimaging – Linking Downtown streets: Ottawa, Ionia and Fulton logo

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City of Grand Rapids wants to know how downtown residents, workers, property owners and visitors experience travel in and around the city core. It also wants to know how everyone hopes to experience travel in the future along downtown’s core streets – Ottawa and Ionia avenues NW between Fulton and Michigan streets and Fulton between Monroe and Division avenues.

That’s why the City is hosting several community engagement opportunities next month. Those who walk, bike, drive, use transit and rideshare along Ottawa, Ionia and Fulton are invited to attend one or more of the City’s three Reimagine – Linking Downtown street design open houses to provide their ideas and priorities about the design and operations of these core downtown streets.

The open houses – set for Dec. 9 and Dec. 10 – are part of a weeklong community design process expected to result in concept designs and recommendations for Ottawa, Ionia and Fulton. The concept designs and recommendations will be reported out to the community Dec. 12.

The opportunity to reimagine the three streets stems from a resurfacing project on Ottawa between Michigan and Fulton that is scheduled for 2021. Several community plans, including GR ForwardBicycle Action Plan and Michigan Street Corridor Plan, include specific recommendations for these core downtown streets.


Planning and design consultants from Moore & Bruggink and Toole Design Group will help facilitate community design process. Discussions may include:

  • One-way and/or two-way roadway operations on Ottawa and Ionia
  • Intersection needs and transit operations throughout the study area
  • Pedestrian and bicycle safety and access, including a separated bikeway on Ionia – recommended in GR Forward and Bicycle Action Plan
  • Community event needs, especially near Calder Plaza and Van Andel Arena
  • Opportunities to beautify and “green” the corridors with such elements as trees, flowers, benches and other decorative or urban furniture elements


A close up of a map

Description automatically generated“Ottawa, Ionia and Fulton are important transportation corridors for not only downtown but the entire city  and greater Grand Rapids region,” said Kristin Bennett, transportation planning/programs supervisor in the City’s Mobile GR and Parking Services Department. “That’s why we hope to get participation in this design process from all who work, live and visit downtown.


“We will use the outcomes of this design process in the initial street resurfacing project on Ottawa in 2021 and then work to identify opportunities and partnerships that may come along to advance other recommendations from this community engagement.”


Community members are encouraged to drop in any time during the open houses to provide ideas and priorities. The design process schedule is:


Open houses

Monday, Dec. 9

4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Ryerson Auditorium at Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library St. NW


Tuesday, Dec. 10

9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ryerson Auditorium at Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library St. NW

       5 to 7:30 p.m.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., 29 Pearl St. NW


Community Report out

Thursday, Dec. 12

5 to 7 p.m.

Ninth-floor Commission Chambers at City Hall, 300 Monroe Ave. NW


Those who need to request accessibility accommodations or those who cannot attend an open house and want to share their ideas and priorities may do so online in English or Spanish or by phone at 616.456.3000.