GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids police say they were forced to arrest seven people protesting Kent County's contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE.
Thursday morning, about 100 protesters marched from the Kent County Commission chambers in downtown Grand Rapids down Ottawa Avenue NW, chanting “ICE out of Kent County” and carrying signs with messages including “abolish ICE now” and “ICE not welcome here.”
Police monitored the protest and blocked off roads to allow protesters to safely pass. However, officers say when a group carrying a banner ignored officers repeated orders to move out of the intersection of Michigan Street and Ottawa Avenue NW, they were arrested.
Police say those arrested sat down in the intersection, endangering the safety of themselves, drivers and others who couldn't get through for medical treatment.
All seven people are adults, according to GRPD. They are charged with failing to comply with a lawful order and resisting and obstructing police.
REASON BEHIND THE PROTEST
Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapids Response to ICE said they organized the demonstration to demand an end to the county’s contract with ICE.
The groups first gathered at Calder Plaza to speak out about the treatment of immigrant families and their children by ICE and U.S. border patrol agents. From there, protesters traveled to the county commission chambers to voice their opposition of the county's contract with ICE.
Kent County commissioners suspended their meeting because of the protests. The meeting resumed around 10 a.m., according to LaPlante.
Movimiento Cosecha GR said undocumented immigrants pulled over for minor traffic violations end up in the county system. The group says because of a county contract, a hold is put on them for ICE.
“These are parents going to work, taking their kids to school. This is ripping families apart, right here in Kent County,” the organization said in a news release.