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Today on Stateside, education systems had to reimagine learning in K-12 schools during the pandemic. Did those systems rise to the occasion? Plus, we meet a chef in Detroit who retooled by organizing restaurateurs to fill gaps in food security.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Climate change in the Great Lakes region means more intense storms. Already some towns are finding they’re flooding where they never have before. One city in Michigan is finding the solution is nature.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

One year after police in Louisville, Kentucky shot and killed Breonna Taylor, her family members marched down the street now named for her in her old hometown of Grand Rapids.

About 100 others joined them, to remember Taylor, and to continue the calls for police reform in Grand Rapids and elsewhere.

“She couldn’t sleep!” Taylor’s cousin Erica Eaves chanted.

“You can’t either!” supporters responded.
 

City commissioners in Grand Rapids were once again flooded with calls last night from people upset with the city’s police department.

This time, callers to the commissioner’s meeting spoke out against officers arresting eight protesters downtown Monday night. The city manager says the police department will review the arrests.

“Can we just get back to normal?”

Grand Rapids mayor Rosalynn Bliss posed the question Tuesday afternoon during a very abnormal state of the city address. In years past, Bliss delivered her address in the evening, in front of a packed crowd, while audience members sipped on craft beer. Tuesday afternoon she spoke in a nearly empty room, at a venue that opened in October 2019, just in time to spend most of 2020 closed to the public.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration wants to give an extra $70 million to cities in Michigan hurting from a decline in income tax revenues.

A total of 24 cities in the state collect local income taxes. They face the potential of a significant revenue decline in the coming year because of pandemic-related job losses.

Cities face additional shortfalls because more people have been working from home. Some cities collect much of their income tax revenue from non-residents who come into the city for work. 

President Joe Biden
The White House / whitehouse.gov

Today on Stateside, President Joe Biden signed a stack of executive orders on his first day in office, including an end to President Donald Trump’s travel ban on a number of countries with large Muslim populations. A reporter discusses the state's Muslim American communities’ responses to the controversial ban’s reversal. Also, a look at the debate over absentee ballots — during the American Civil War. Plus, a grocery store tackles food insecurity in Grand Rapids with tools from social justice.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Some people in Flint are turning to a higher power to deal with a rise in violent crime.

“We pray right now for protection, Lord. We pray for strength, Lord,” Pastor Chris Martin used a megaphone, as he led a small march from his church, past a city park where the city’s latest murder victim was found Saturday.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A new emergency shelter will soon open in downtown Grand Rapids, with up to 100 beds.

The shelter will be in an old retail space in the Heartside neighborhood downtown. Two existing shelters – Mel Trotter Ministries and Guiding Light, are working together to open up the space, along with the building’s owner.

Dennis Van Kampen, head of Mel Trotter Ministries, says demand for shelter has increased since the start of the pandemic, even as the shelter space has declined.

Health officials in Kent County are pleading with people to take “simple precautions” as new COVID-19 case numbers rise, and hospitals throughout West Michigan see an increase in cases.

Spectrum Health, the area’s largest hospital system, reported 81 confirmed COVID-19 patients in its hospitals as of Thursday, an increase compared to the number of patients it treated for much of the summer.

Mike Pence
www.mikepence.house.gov

Vice President Mike Pence held a rally in Grand Rapids on Wednesday.

The event was held outside Lacks Enterprises, a car-detail company on the city’s southeast side.

Pence praised President Donald Trump for leading the automotive industry’s economic comeback in Michigan.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The wife of Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden was campaigning for her husband in Michigan Tuesday.

Jill Biden toured a food pantry in Grand Rapids and met with military family members in Battle Creek. 

At the home of former congressman Joe Schwarz, Biden promised her husband would support military families struggling with deployments, health care and COVID-19.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

City leaders in Grand Rapids say they’re not yet ready to talk about ways to defund the police department.

Instead, the focus is on a new strategic plan for the department which was presented to commissioners Tuesday.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

After hearing more than four hours worth of comments from the public and debating amongst themselves past midnight, Grand Rapids city commissioners did not make any dramatic changes to the police department budget.

Commissioners did vote on an amendment to the city’s budget which will result in a reduction of nearly $400,000 to the police department’s budget this year. Those changes will move the Oversight and Public Accountability Department out of the Grand Rapids Police Department, and increase its staffing. The amendment will also create a new civilian assistant director for the police department, a new communications manager and reduce costs by cutting overtime and supplies, among other changes.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids police officer unions are pushing back on calls to defund the department.

Three city commissioners in Grand Rapids have already said they support cutting the Grand Rapids Police Department’s budget by $9.4 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

The police officer’s union says a cut of that size would almost certainly mean layoffs for dozens of police officers.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

At least three commissioners in Grand Rapids signaled support for cutting the police department budget during a meeting on Tuesday morning. But because of a rare provision in the city’s charter, those cuts would be limited.

In 1995, voters in Grand Rapids approved a provision to require that at least 32% of the city’s general fund must go toward police services.

Emergency room hospital
Pixabay

Today on Stateside, a conversation with a community activist in Grand Rapids looking to defund the police and what that would entail. Plus, four nurses have filed a lawsuit against the parent company of DMC and Sinai-Grace over what they say was negligence and mismanagement that led to unnecessary COVID-19 deaths.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people marched through the streets of Grand Rapids once again Friday, but this time it was to honor one of the city’s own.

Breonna Taylor was killed by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky in March, just a few months shy of her 27th birthday. Taylor was in her own room, in the middle of the night, when officers shot her while carrying out a “no knock” warrant looking for someone else.

Earlier this week, Louisville banned “no knock” warrants through legislation now known as “Breonna’s Law.”

Nathália Rosa / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, we’ll check in with former Michigan Radio reporter Bryce Huffman, who started working for BridgeDetroit—a newsroom made up entirely of people of color—just days before George Floyd was killed by police and Black Lives Matter protests took hold across the globe. Also, a conversation with a Detroit radio journalist about the music that made the city an indelible part of punk history.

(Subscribe to Stateside on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or with this RSS link)

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The city of Grand Rapids is facing calls to re-open the 2021 budget to cut funding for police.

The city finalized its budget less than a month ago. That budget included cuts to many departments, including police, because of an expected shortfall in revenue.

But now a number of people in the city want the Grand Rapids Police Department’s budget cut even further.

Brian Jennings stands at the front of a crowd of protesters who marched through Grand Rapids Wednesday.
Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids officials told residents the city is commited to implementing changes to make policing more accountable, and safer for residents, in an online update forum on Friday.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Update: Brian Jennings was arrested by Grand Rapids police Thursday afternoon. The Kent County Prosecutor's office initially told Michigan Radio Jennings was charged with destruction of property separately from the destruction that happened in the downtown core on Saturday night. Since then, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker says additional charges have been filed for rioting, breaking and entering and destruction of property at 82 Ionia on Saturday. The Kent County Prosecutors office is located in the building. 

Hundreds of angry people with no leader, and no plan.

A city, and a police department, on edge.

That was Grand Rapids again last night, less than a week after protests downtown turned to destruction and looting.

But last night, things turned out differently.

Zac A. Clark / Clark Camera

After days of protest, there are signs of progress in many parts of Michigan today.

Kent County law enforcement leaders, including Grand Rapids police chief Eric Payne, joined protesters in Grand Rapids Wednesday afternoon, kneeling and chanting “I can’t breathe.”

Marcel Fable Price sitting on a set of stairs in a hoodie and khakis
Courtesy of Marcel "Fable" Price

Marcel “Fable” Price is poet laureate of Grand Rapids. He’s also the executive director of The Diatribe, a youth-focused performing arts nonprofit in Grand Rapids. He recently put out a statement about the protests against excessive police force happening here in Michigan and beyond. It read to us more like an essay, or dare we say, poetry. Listen below to hear Marcel share his thoughts on this moment in America. 


an open sign in a shop window
Mike Petrucci / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, we spoke with activists who organized some of this week's protests in Detroit and Grand Rapids. Plus, Governor Whitmer rolled back some significant restrictions on business and gatherings yesterday which was a huge relief for some, but left many with huge gray areas about how commerce and social life will go forward.

(Subscribe to Stateside on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or with this RSS link)

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Update: The Grand Rapids City Commission met Tuesday and discussed the events of Saturday night. The mayor and city commissioners decided not to extend the city's 7 p.m. curfew. The full meeting is available online here.

I walked the streets of my city on the night of mayhem Saturday, and witnessed the destruction. I saw the fires burning in the street. I heard the sound of glass shattering, of people cheering. I felt the warmth from a fire as it swallowed a police vehicle on a quiet intersection.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Two Michigan cities are imposing curfews after clashes between police and protesters this weekend.

Detroit and Grand Rapids have been rocked by vandalism and violence after rallies against police brutality against black people.

Detroit's curfew will begin at 8 p.m., and lift at 5 a.m.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

What started out as a large peaceful protest in Grand Rapids against police violence during the day on Saturday turned chaotic at night and into the early hours of Sunday morning. Police fired tear gas at the protesters, trying to break up the group. The group broke up into many smaller groups, but then went throughout downtown smashing windows, looting stores and setting many police cruisers on fire.

Wave card being used on a bus in Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Bus service is expanding in Grand Rapids, to meet an expected rise in ridership as more people venture out of their homes.

The Rapid bus service cut back on its routes in March, then increased frequency of a handful of high-demand routes in April to allow for social distancing on the bus.

Starting Tuesday, service will resume on all but one route in the city, though most routes won’t be running as often on weekdays as they did before the pandemic.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The city of Grand Rapids plans a hiring freeze and budget cuts of $13 million because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus. And the city could be forced to cut even deeper if state and city revenues continue to fall.

City Manager Mark Washington announced the changes during a city commission meeting this morning. The preliminary plan calls for $540 million in city spending during the next fiscal year, compared to $553 million for the current budget.

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