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Hispanic festival continues in Grand Rapids, with some added security

Dustin Dwyer
Michigan Radio
The Grand Rapids Hispanic Festival is in its 42nd year.

Food, music and heritage are the focus at the annual Grand Rapids Hispanic Festival this weekend.

But this year, there will also be added security.

Organizers with the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan say about 25,000 people showed up for the festival last year, and they’re hoping for more this year.

But they’ve also taken extra precautions after the deadly attacks last weekend in El Paso and Dayton. Police say the attacker in El Paso claimed he specifically targeted Mexicans.

Daniela Rojas Cortez is with the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan. She says security is always a concern.

“But we have always been very optimistic about our festivities in coming together and having moments like this unify us as opposed to separate us because of fear,” she says.

She adds that there will be added police at this year’s festival in Grand Rapids.

“Usually in the past, we’ve kind of told them to back off to not intimidate the community, so we have as few as possible,” she says. “This year we will have just a few in uniform, but we have carried out some that are going to be undercover.”

The festival is runs through Sunday evening at Calder Plaza in Grand Rapids.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.