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Grand Rapids Police cruiser
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Grand Rapids Police Department released body cam footage Friday of a stop involving two unarmed 11-year old black boys.

The video shows several police cars stopping three young men on the city’s southeast side. The oldest boy is 17 years old, while the others are 11 year-old twin brothers.

1950s grand rapids
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This week marks the 51st anniversary of the riots that broke out in Michigan during the summer of 1967.

While the uprising in Detroit is the most well known, Grand Rapids faced a similar event, albeit on a smaller scale. The city had three days of unrest that left 44 people hurt and 350 arrested.

Ellen James is a founding member of the Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees and a leader in Grand Rapid’s African-American community. Tavian Moore is the president of the Greater Grand Rapids NAACP Youth Council.

civil rights rally in detroit
Sonny Edwards / Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University

On this day 75 ago, the 1943 race riots were coming to an end. Over a three-day period, 34 people were killed in the riots. Nine of them were white and 25 were African-Americans. The event would mark a turning point in the city’s history.

Michael Jackman, senior editor of the Detroit Metro Times, joined Stateside’s Lester Graham to discuss this bloody part of Detroit’s history.

A sign that says "Thoughts and prayers are not enough," with the Renaissance Center in the background.
Brian Wybenga

The Detroit NAACP branch will recognize students from about a half-dozen Detroit-area high schools for their activism, including participation in protests to end gun violence.

The civil rights organization will present the honor during the 63rd Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner on May 6 at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Students also will present a tribute honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work.

Catherine Shaffer / Michigan Radio

The Detroit branch NAACP hosted an event Friday to raise awareness about Detroit's aging water infrastructure, and to call on the federal government to update and repair it.

Detroit's situation is part of a nationwide infrastructure crisis, but the need is critical in the Great Lakes region, advocates say, because more than 30 million people depend on the lakes for their drinking water. 

Groups brainstorming
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Elected leaders in Grand Rapids are trying to satisfy critics who say they’re not doing enough to change police policies and outcomes critics say are racially biased.

It's part of a larger effort launched after violence in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

Water faucent in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The ACLU of Michigan and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund are calling for Flint City Council and Mayor Karen Weaver to suspend any efforts to impose liens on homes where resident's haven't paid their water bills. Those liens could eventually give the city the right to sell off the home if the debt isn't paid back. 

Grand Rapids Police Department station
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A coalition of community groups is encouraging Grand Rapids residents to contact the city manager and police chief after a March 24th encounter between police and a group of five African American boys.

From left: Michigan NAACP President Yvonne White, national NAACP President Cornell Brooks, and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan chapters of the NAACP met in Detroit for the group’s 80th statewide convention this weekend.

The historic group talked strategies to confront current civil rights challenges, that range from police brutality and criminal justice reform, to state laws that limit voting rights.

National NAACP President Cornell Brooks, who spoke at the Michigan conference, called 2016 a "critical year" for the modern civil rights and racial justice movements, as well as a critical election year.

“I think the residents and citizens of Flint will take the remorse of government to be genuine when they see quality, pure, safe water coming out of the tap," says NAACP president Cornell William Brooks.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Top leaders of the NAACP were in Lansing Wednesday pressing Governor Snyder on the Flint water crisis.

The group blocked a street in front of the State Capitol with pieces of pipe, calling it a “pipe-in.”

Leading the group was the National NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks.

Brooks was in Lansing a month ago, and threatened civil disobedience if Governor Snyder didn’t present a plan within 30 days that included a deadline for replacing Flint’s water pipes.

 

NAACP President Cornell Brooks says "the way you can measure trust is when you have a timeline, a deadline and a price tag."
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The NAACP is giving Gov. Rick Snyder 30 days to come up with a “timeline, deadline and price tag” for fixing Flint’s water crisis.

After that, the national civil right organization is threatening “direct action” protests in Michigan.

National NAACP president Cornell William Brooks laid out a 20-point plan for Flint’s drinking water crisis. The plan includes repealing Michigan’s emergency manager law, free home inspections and a new ‘state of the art water system’ in Flint. 

Brooks says it's time Gov. Rick Snyder delivered a specific plan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder met behind closed doors with the national president of the NAACP in Flint Tuesday night. 

NAACP president Cornell William Brooks said he, Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver had a “frank” discussions about Flint’s drinking water crisis. 

He called his closed-door meeting with the governor and the mayor a “robust conversation about specific reforms.”

White Arm with Black Arm
azotesdivinos / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Plans are underway to start a new chapter of the NAACP in the Grosse Pointe suburbs northeast of Detroit.

Organizers say the new branch will work to promote diversity and tolerance through fine arts programming and youth activities that help forward discussions on diversity and tolerance.

Greg Bowens, one of the Grosse Pointe residents leading the effort, said some people have been "shocked" at the idea of starting an NAACP chapter in the mostly white community

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There may be six questions on Flint’s November ballot that would revamp the city’s 40-year-old city charter. 

The paperwork was filed with the clerk’s office today. 

Five of the proposals would eliminate some city offices. The sixth would create a charter commission to consider totally revamping Flint’s city charter. 

Robert Wesley headed up a blue-ribbon committee that looked at how Flint’s city government works. He hopes Flint residents will support the ballot questions.     

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Cobo Hall Detroit, June 23, 1963.
50th Anniversary Freedom Walk Facebook Page

Just as his father did fifty years ago, Martin Luther King III will address an expected march of thousands in Detroit.

This year Detroit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the day Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood before 25,000 people at Cobo Hall in Detroit and declared, "I have a dream this afternoon." This was just two months before the historic March on Washington.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Leaders of the Detroit branch of the NAACP say they'll file a lawsuit next week challenging Michigan's emergency manager law.

The law has allowed Gov. Rick Snyder to put managers in Detroit and other struggling cities and school districts. Critics plan to talk Monday outside the federal courthouse in Detroit.

Other legal challenges have not been successful. An Ingham County judge in April threw out a lawsuit that claimed lawmakers violated the Open Meetings Act when it approved the bill in December.

Wikipedia Commons

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, says Detroit is "still engaged in a great freedom walk … and a campaign to preserve the dignity of all Americans."

Pelosi made the remarks as the featured speaker for the Detroit NAACP’s 56th annual gathering last night.

The Detroit branch of the NAACP held its annual “Fight for Freedom fund” dinner last night.

There was celebration of the branch’s centennial anniversary this year. But there was also grave concern over continuing civil rights struggles.

The dinner is traditionally one of the Detroit NAACP’s largest—and most lucrative—events.

This year, it drew thousands of people, including much of Michigan’s political and business elite.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Politicians and national media have been parachuting into Benton Harbor lately. They’re talking about the city’s emergency manager, Joe Harris. Harris was the first emergency manager in Michigan to exercise broad new powers under a state law passed last month, essentially removing power from elected city officials.

This week I sat down with many of those officials and Benton Harbor residents to hear what they think of the situation.