Protests erupt in Grand Rapids, Michigan, following police killing of Patrick Lyoya

Austin Meerzo

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A swelling crowd of 1,000 people gathered and marched in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on April 16 to denounce the killing of 26-year-old Congolese immigrant Patrick Lyoya at the hands of a Grand Rapids Police Department officer.

This was the fourth day of protests since the release of police, cell phone and other videos showing the brutal killing after Lyoya was pulled over on April 4 for a traffic stop because he allegedly had the wrong license plate on his vehicle. The encounter ended with the as-yet-unnamed cop sitting on Lyoya’s back and shooting him point-blank in the back of his head.

Outrage over this brutal killing of yet another young Black man has grown in western Michigan, around the state and across the country as the heinous death has gained national media attention. Protesters gathered and rallied downtown at Monroe and Pearl Streets before hitting the pavement to march. They were forced to reroute a couple times when cops put up barricades and harassed marchers with police drones. The protesters went down a side street officially named Breonna Taylor Way.

Taylor, who was shot and killed by Louisville, Kentucky, police in 2020, was born in Grand Rapids. Her mother, Tamika Palmer, was there to support the Lyoya family at a press conference April 14 demanding justice for Lyoya.

Speakers and protesters echoed the Lyoya family’s demands for the immediate release of the name and photograph of the police officer who shot and killed Lyoya. They demanded he be fired and criminally prosecuted immediately.

Local activists were joined by members of the Royal Black Panther Party from Indiana who came to Grand Rapids in solidarity with the community’s demands. They provided leadership and security for the rally and march. People identifying as medics were in the crowd, which was multinational and very youthful. People attended with their children in tow. Members of the Voices of the Revolution, Party for Socialism and Liberation, White Panther Party and other organizations were there as well.

Crowds march through Grand Rapids, Michigan, on April 16 to protest the police killing of Patrick Lyoya. Liberation photo
Crowds march through Grand Rapids, Michigan, on April 16 to protest the police killing of Patrick Lyoya. Liberation photo

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