Patrick Lyoya, a Black man living in Grand Rapids, was killed by the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) last week. We stand with those in our community that reject the violence that led to Patrick’s death and educate for widespread systemic change. KConnect raises its voice with those calling for reforms on the use of deadly force by law enforcement and resolutely protests the inequitable policies, practices, and procedures that are found within the Grand Rapids Police Department.
We recognize that systems in Kent County and beyond were not created for Black and Brown community members. This tragedy is not singular, but is instead part of a long line of injustices that have faced the Black residents of Kent County. Across our work within the prenatal to career continuum, we see that Black and Brown families are being discriminated against in every arena. Whether it’s annual income or suspension rates or birth weight, we see that Black families are consistently left behind and discriminated against both individually and systemically.
KConnect strives to identify and fight racial injustices in our community, and the latest tragedy at the hands of GRPD is an example of the systemic challenges facing Black and Brown residents today. The extreme racial disparities and aggression toward our communities of color will continue to exist unless our community works together to address centuries of racial discrimination and violence. We resolve to convene, listen, learn, and advocate for those in our community who are disproportionately left out of these important conversations. We share in your frustration at this senseless act and commit to work with cross-sector partners to address these issues.
More than ever, we are committed to racial equity in all facets in Kent County. Please consider doing the following to support Patrick’s family during this inconceivable time of loss.
- Donate to the family’s GoFundMe for funeral expenses. You can find the link here.
- Sign the petition to demand action and accountability for those who are responsible for this tragedy. Sign the petition here.
- Peacefully exercise your first amendment right and attend one of the many protests and gatherings happening in Grand Rapids and around Kent County.
- Advocate for a thorough, independent, transparent, and impartial investigation while holding those responsible accountable in both civil and criminal court.
Patrick and his family left the Republic of Congo to find a safer life in the United States, and instead found racial violence, discrimination, and ultimately death. This is an all too familiar experience for Black residents in Kent County and across the nation. KConnect seeks to empower youth, community advocates, and those in positions of power to demand reforms across our community. We call on those in places of privilege to stand up and boldly defend the rights of our Black and Brown neighbors who are experiencing institutional and systemic racism. Without a strong coalition – spanning every age group, gender identity, and race – we will continue to see this type of violence befall the next generation. We must act now.
Let’s work together with the public and private sector, businesses, nonprofits, philanthropy, and education systems to create a community where everyone, regardless of skin color, immigration status, or heritage, is safe and living their best lives.