There have been nine murders in the last thirty days in Grand Rapids. That’s almost as many as the state’s second largest city sees during an average year. But the community is working on a game plan to fight the violence.
Friday morning about a thousand people gathered at Messiah Missionary Baptist Church. They prayed and they made plans for many smaller meetings over the next 60 days.
Pastor Jermone Glenn (of The Revolution Church) says they want ideas on how to prevent so much violence in the future “in an environment where it can be facilitated to be able to move towards an action instead of just an outrage”.
Pastor Clifton Rhodes Jr. says leaders from all kinds of community groups, health care providers, youth groups, schools, are working to gather public input for a new strategy.
“The failures of the past cannot keep us from initiating new energies in the present. If we fumbled before, the game still plays. So we’re going to try to come up with better plays. We’re going to try to execute better,” Rhodes told a group of reporters after the gathering. Media was not allowed into the event.
Rhodes says the meetings are important because people need to feel empowered to help make change.
Besides this past month, Grand Rapids Police Captain Eric Payne says violent crime in Grand Rapids has decreased.
“I don’t like putting numbers on it because it affects the families of the victims of it. So one is too many,” Payne said.
Payne says GRPD’s special response team is working overtime on the cases. He says they're unrelated.
Share your ideas at a community meeting:
January 23rd: Discussions about youth @ 6:30p.m. 1050 Fisk SE, Grand Rapids
February 7th: Focus on education @ 5:30p.m. at Gerald R. Ford Middle School
February 5th: Coffee with GRPD’s Captain Payne @ 5:30p.m. 636 Bates SE, Grand Rapids (if too many people show up they’ll move across the street to the 1st Christian Reformed Church)
February 21st: Interfaith dialogue @ 5:30p.m. 618 Jefferson SE, Grand Rapids
February 25th – 28th: Systems and mental health issues conversation at the Urban League, 745 Eastern SE, Grand Rapids in the evenings each day