GRAND RAPIDS, MI Thursday evening, up to 100 people gathered for a discussion on the death of Patrick Lyoya.
Community members spoke about racism and the traumatised communities of color at the hands of law enforcement in the auditorium.
How do we feel safe and trust the cops? said Khashyah Williams, an eighth-grader at Grand Rapids Montessori school. I'm extremely scared and traumatized.
Residents also asked community leaders, including members of the City Council, about the use of force by police and the events leading up to Lyoya's death, who fled the United States in 2014.
According to Shaunna Dior, "Patrick was confused, and he was worried" he did not know what to do. He is not from here, according to police body footage. Lyoya's reaction was captured in police body video, following his vehicle being pulled over by police.
"He didn't know what he did; what he did know was that cops slaughtered Black people, and he was scared, and he ran."
On the morning of April 4, a police officer in Grand Rapids shot Lyoya in the back of the head, putting him in the back of the head, and his gunshot wound sparked a traffic stop, which resulted in a tussle, a short foot chase, and a fight against a taser.
As the two struggled, an officer notified Lyoya to stop and then said "stop resisting." The officer urged Lyoya to "let go of the Taser."
The Thursday's meeting, organized by the Black Impact Collaborative and others, commenced with comments from a panel led by City Commissioners Senita Lenear and Nathaniel Moody, as well as City Attorney Anita Hitchcock.
They spoke with attendees as they discussed the investigation of Lyoya's death, which is being overseen by Michigan State Police. They spoke about the emotional impact the shooting has had on the community. Representatives of Mental Health Clinicians of Color were on hand to speak, and panelists met with them.
The last few days have been devastating for many of us, Moody said. We are here this evening to discuss how we can assist each other in healing from this terrible situation.
Moments of the discussion were heated.
Members of the audience, still harmed by footage of Lyoya's death, often shouted over panelists. They said that communities of color in Grand Rapids have long been mistreated by police, and asked why more hasn't been done before to deal with the issue.
An early in the meeting, one man abruptly left when organizers asked participants to submit questions for the panel on index cards. It was "rude" that organizers were unwilling to take questions directly from residents.
In response to Lyoya, another man shouted out, "He was murdered." After answering questions directly, audience members were permitted to respond to comments, although their emotions remained.
One guy, who he dubbed himself a refugee, expressed displeasure about the difficulties faced by refugees in Kent County, and asked officials why they haven't improved relations with the refugee community.
As panelist Nadia Brigham, a founder of the Black Impact Collaborative, began to respond, the man told her: "You're just patronizing again."
You don't know me, and I don't know you, Brigham said. We all have a lot of pain. We all are relieved.
Brigham later said she understood the anger and sadness experienced during the discussion.
They should be outraged, she said. If youre not, youve got to check your respect. Im sorry, like its my child.
After the meeting, Lenear said she was glad that locals contacted them to express their concerns.
"People are hurting, and we are all hurting in this community," she said. "To collectively come to talk about how we're hurting was appropriate."
"We get encouraged and told to sweep it under the rug and make a smile and move on," she says, and we cannot do it. We must sit in this space but learn some tools and techniques to do it.
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