What I Know and What I Don’t – about Police Behavior in Holland Michigan

Friday morning, May 4, there was a domestic violence issue in Holland.   That’s all I’m calling it because I don’t know any more than that.   One of the parties involved, here again, I’m stating only what I’ve been told from people who I know personally and who I believe to be trustworthy, one of the parties left the scene and was believed to have a gun in his possession.

Later in the day, the Holland police officers pulled over a car in the parking lot of the Maple St. Ministries.  Watch Rev. Grier’s video that she took from her office window……

https://www.facebook.com/deegrier/videos/10160150118965447/

A couple of hours later, Rev. Grier also posted this video……

https://www.facebook.com/deegrier/videos/10160150610425447/
At 12:12 am on Saturday (so 6 hours later), The Holland Police posted this on Facebook:

 Holland Police Arrest Felony Suspect on Traffic Stop, Locate Gun Used in Domestic:

About 6:15pm on Friday evening, Holland Police officers made a traffic stop on a vehicle in the area of 17th and Maple. Officers had information that a suspect, who was involved in a Domestic involving a handgun earlier in the day, was in the vehicle and was believed to be in possession of the gun. There were four people between 19 and 23 years old in the vehicle that were ordered out at gunpoint. The suspect was arrested and charged with Domestic Assault, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and had an unrelated warrant for his arrest. The driver was arrested, cited and released for a driving offense, and the other two passengers were released approximately 20 minutes after the stop.

(Bold print is mine)

There are three things that I don’t know that I would like to have the Holland Police answer for the public:

1.  Their statement says that they “had information.”   What information was that – was it a positive ID that it absolutely was the guy from the assault Friday morning?   Or was it a matter of, “here are four people from about the same age who are all people of color, driving around…..  Hmmmm…..”  If they had a reason beyond racial bias, they should share it with the community to restore trust.

2. The suspect was believed to be in possession of the gun – why did they believe that?  Did he flash it at someone while driving down 16th st?   Or did they assume?    If they had a reason beyond racial bias, they should share it with the community to restore trust.

3. Regarding to the guns to the head – after all four of the occupants of the car were out, searched, handcuffed and lying on the ground, the police officers not only still had their guns out but had them pointed directly at these four people’s heads.  What I would like to know, what I believe we need to know is a two part question:  a) Why did they feel they needed to continue to actively aim their guns at their heads when the police officers were no longer at risk from them?   b) Can the Holland Police provide documentation of another case with a similar pursuit and arrest involving white people where they kept their guns aimed at the occupants of the car even after they were out, searched and handcuffed?  If the police claim (and they do) that they were following standard protocol, then I would urge them to show information where they used that same protocol in a similar situation and the only thing that was substantially different was the color of the skin of the people in the car. 

It can’t happen in our neighborhood.  The way it looks right now, racial bias and execessive violence did happen in our world.

And we can not let it go quietly.

Tom

Once upon a time there was a family.

In this family, there was a Dad. Dad went to work every day to provide for his family.

In this family, there was a Mom.

Mom took care of their children.

As the children grew up, life was busy but it was good.

And if you went down their street, they were part of a community.

But……

Dad and Mom weren’t born in their town.

They were born elsewhere.

But this was their town.

They were raising a family…

They were making a difference….

They were part of their town.

Until one day, the government decided they weren’t part of their town.

Dad went to work one morning.

And he didn’t come home.

Not because he didn’t want to come home.

He didn’t come home because the government said that wasn’t his home and that this wasn’t his town.

The government decided that he was no longer allowed to live there and no longer allowed to be part of that community or to be with his family.

Shock, grief, horror ran through the community, how could this happen?

Mom carried on, even in her grief and shock.

She had to – they have children who needed her – more than ever.

Dad was gone – she had two roles to play.

And then it happened.

The unthinkable again.

Mom went to the store.
And.She.Didn’t.Come.Home
The government decided that she didn’t belong in that town either.

That town where they were raising a family.

That town where many people considered them neighbors and friends.

Why? You might be asking that question. A lot of people asked that question.

Ask a different question – “If Dad and Mom were born there, if Dad and Mom were part of the majority culture and race in the town, do you think they would be hauled away by the government and told they can’t be there?”

So what happened to Dad and Mom?

I don’t know.

I have another question that you and I and we all need to think about……

What town did/does this story take place in?

Berlin Germany in the 1930’s?

Or Grand Rapids Michigan in 2018?

TJV

McDonald’s Billboard – Really?

Okay, maybe I’m the only one who sees it.

Maybe it’s just a billboard run by local McDonalds restaurants.

But I doubt it.

In the environment that we are in, the political, racial and governmental environment, there isn’t a day that goes by where immigration isn’t in the news.

Temporary Protective Status

DACA

The Wall

Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary Churches

Deportations

Rallies

Articles about how the United States allowed a grand total of 11 refugees from Syria to immigrate in 2017.

Eleven.

We had that many people for a relatively small breakfast birthday party on Saturday.

So what does McDonald’s do?

They run a series of billboards – I know there are at least two in West Michigan, probably more that have the McDonald’s logo on them. And they have pictures of a couple of the McDonald’s frozen drinks.

What words does it say?

“Have an ICE Day!”

You’re probably thinking, yeah, they are talking about frozen drinks and they want you to have an ICE day. In other words, get yourself one of our ice cold frozen drinks and your life will be better.

But given our current environment, ICE isn’t only about frozen water.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ICE is about a family from my son’s school who got separated because the dad isn’t allowed back in the United States.

ICE is about one of the pastors our church supports (here in Grand Rapids), having government people show up at his door one night asking to see papers and for him to prove that he is here legally. (He’s Hispanic and he’s a US citizen – so he’s fine).

ICE is about a church in Kalamazoo consulting with attorneys about how they can lawfully keep ICE out of their church because there are people staying in their church who are concerned for their safety at the hands of ICE.

ICE is about 60,000 Haitians who are afraid they will have to face the decision – “I have been here since 2010 and the earthquake that wiped out my city, under temporary protection status, my children who have been born since then are US citizens. What do I do?”

Words mean things.

In certain environments and certain times, words mean different things than they did at a different time. We are in a time where the current government has made ICE a word that means way more than just frozen water.

For thousands if not millions of people in the United States, ICE represents a government agency that can disrupt families, ruin lives, fracture communities.

At best, McDonald’s decision to wish you an ICE day is strictly an advertising choice that wasn’t thought through completely.

At worst, McDonald’s just might be telling us something more.

Come on, McDonald’s, you can do better. You know better.

TJV

Gilligan, The Department of Homeland Security and Haiti

I know I’m providing hints at how old I am, but how many of you remember the song that starts the TV sitcom, “Gilligan’s Island?” Especially when it comes to the part about the “three hour tour” that lasted way longer?

In 2017, the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security went to visit Haiti to “see for herself” whether things had improved enough to no longer allow the Haitians who are in the United States on emergency status to remain here.

In other words, is there anything in Haiti that they can go back to?

While Gilligan went on a 3 hour tour that got them stranded on an island, apparently, Acting Secretary Elaine Duke could spend four hours in Haiti and determine that things were just fine and that it would be no problem for 60,000 Haitians to show up with no place to live, no job, nothing.

4 hours.

4 hours and a decision that impacts not only the 60,000 Haitians but countless others.

How can you truly analyze the capabilities of a complex and fragmented place like Haiti in four hours?

How can you truly analyze the capabilities of Haiti without spending time in their “used to be Green Belt” that had most of its agriculture wiped out from Hurricane Matthew?

In a place like Haiti with the lack of infrastructure, I can almost guarantee you that Ms. Duke did not come anywhere close to the rural parts of Haiti which are, I’m told, a totally different world than the capital of Haiti, Port Au Prince.

You can’t.

I can’t.

Even the Department of Homeland Security can’t.

So why did they make that decision?

I don’t know, but I have a pretty strong hunch that it has to do with the other decisions that the current administration is making about other immigration issues.

I strongly disagree with Ms. Duke’s assessment of Haiti. I have friends in Haiti who have told me the same thing, some of them in substantially stronger language than I’ve used.

The ramifications for these Haitians who are in the United States, for their children who were born here (and are US Citizens) and for our country and the economic and moral impact are way more significant than most people understand.

I’ll be talking about it more soon and I urge you to talk to people about it, talk to your government representatives. More to come……

It was a four hour tour, not a three hour tour.

But many more people are at significant risk because of that decision and that’s not right.

It’s wrong.

Tom