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Community, police relations "at a boiling point," say parents of Grand Rapids boys stopped by cops

three moms at podium
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Mothers Shawndryka Moore, Jacquetta Sims, and IKeshia Quinn address the Grand Rapids City Commission on April 12, 2017.

The parents of five young, unarmed black boys that Grand Rapids police held at gunpoint last month want police officers involved in the incident to apologize to their sons.

Police ordered the 12 to 14-year-olds to the ground after getting a tip that someone in a group matching their description had a gun. Grand Rapids’ police chief has apologized but said officers were following protocol.

“Problematic” show of force from Grand Rapids police strikes a nerve

Almost 50 people sat through the Grand Rapids City Commission meeting last night to voice their support for the boys. They asked for changes in police protocol, especially when cops are interacting with young people.

Every seat in the audience was filled, and there were people sitting on the floor. Many wore stickers that read “#wouldyoupullagunonme?” During the comments, several young black kids ended their remarks with the same question. 

After listening for almost an hour to others offer support, three of the boys’ moms came to the podium.

Ikeshia Quinn introduced herself and started to cry. “I’m sorry,” she told the commission, as she collected herself.

“On March 24, that’s when our whole lives are changed,” Quinn said. “We’re not asking for much. We just want our boys to get apologized to and get back to our regular basis.”

Shawndryka Moore’s son was also in the group of boys confronted by the officers. She said he’s traumatized by the incident.

“It’s been really hard. All three of us been trying to hold each other up. Behind this situation, we can’t stop thinking of the fact that what if one of our babies had made the wrong move and they wouldn’t be here with us tonight?”

Moore continued on, fighting back tears. She said the boys were ordered to the ground in front of a close friend’s house. She said her son told her he almost ran into her friend’s house because he was scared.

“Would you be ok with saying it’s proper protocol then? Would you be ok with not apologizing, just letting us deal with what’s going on? The way this has tore up our homes, our happiness, our boys' happiness? We didn’t have these types of worries before this happened,” Moore said.

Two of Bomesa Sims' sons were in the group as well. Unlike the other parents, Sims said he doesn’t want an apology. “That doesn’t matter,” he said, adding that GRPD has made it clear to him the officers aren’t going to do that.

“I think Grand Rapids is at a point where, it’s a boiling point, and we’ve reached it,” he said.

“I’m angry. I know a lot of people are angry. And I’m saying this to the police, like something has to change before ya’ll have a situation on your hands that ya’ll can’t handle. Because it’s that serious,” Sims said.

Sims said his sons don’t feel comfortable yet playing outside since the incident.

“I’m calm but I’m very angry,” Sims said, looking down. “I just want to tell police and commissioners that something needs to be done because ya’ll aren’t going to be able to control what happens next.”

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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