9am Registration, free bike tune ups & giveaways. 9:30am begin cycling. 11am arrive to Rosa Park Circle. 12pm– “Am I Next” Peaceful Rally Rosa Park Circle.
Note: Black Lives Matter – Grand Rapids did not create this event or orchestrate the rally, nor have they been organizing along with 4Unity, the team behind it. See their note below the image.
Black Lives Matter: Grand Rapids’ Official Statement on the “Am I Next?” 4Unity Rally
There has been a lot of confusion regarding Black Lives Matter: Grand Rapids’ role in the upcoming “Am I Next?” Rally happening at Rosa Parks’ Circle this upcoming Saturday afternoon, in large part due to the term “Black Lives Matter” that was originally in the event’s title. The term “Black Lives Matter,” while coined by the three Black women who created the Black Lives Matter official movement, is used by various activists, advocates, organizers and movement workers both within and outside the official network to center Black victims of police brutality. However, to clarify whose event it was and to help direct people to the rightful organizers of the 4Unity rally, we asked the name be changed. We did not create the event page or orchestrate the rally, nor have we been organizing along with 4Unity, the team behind it.
Regardless, BLM:GR originally intended to show solidarity with 4Unity and their rally by spreading the word on our social media outlets, having a presence, and supporting the young Black leaders behind it in any way they requested of us. We reached out on Facebook, but due to the volume of responses the 4Unity organizers received, were unsuccessful in discussing a possible collaboration or get in conversation with the youth who led the event. However, having followed the page, spoke with other concerned community members including the new organizer behind the scenes, a business woman by the name of Monica Sparks, the co-option of the event by adults, police, and others in seats of power is very clear. This is no longer an event that centers the lives lost to state violence, anti-Black police brutality or even conversations on how to support victims and deter the problem in our own city. While we respect the youth leadership and the direction they wish to take their event, we cannot stand in solidarity with the turn this rally has taken nor the public statements made regarding the issues at hand and do not wish to be affiliated with it.
To say there has not been an incident of excessive force, racial profiling, discrimination, targeted racial and sexual harassment and intimidation by the hands of the police in Grand Rapids is a dangerous erasure of the truth and betrays the alleged desires of #4Unity for peace. The King Park incident of last summer, the physical assault of Donovan Braswell, as well as the racial and sexual assault of a Black woman at the hands of former GRPD officer Ryan Bruggink are all clear incidents of police violence against Black residents of Grand Rapids. The numerous other incidents that have not been brought to light should also be taken into account and recognized by the community. Before anyone gets their “peace” (which has long become code for silence, passivity, compliance and respectability), we deserve justice. Before talks of unity, we must speak openly about how Black and Brown communities are viciously torn apart by systems and institutions of injustice and violence.
Additionally, we do not believe that victims of brutality could have “done something different” to avoid the violence they experienced. We do not think it is appropriate to ask members oppressed communities to look at their oppressors and join hands with them in times such as these. The Grand Rapids chapter of Black Lives Matter is committed to radical change. We do not think those who police, intimidate and enact violence on communities are healthy, functioning parts of those communities and regard with suspicion those who believe that moral appeals will save Black people from public execution.
Black Lives Matter: GR.
OKT is sponsoring this event along as a part of its Women of Color Convening series along with GRAAHI, She Rides Her Own Way and The Spoke Folks.