Color of Change: Murder of Patrick Lyoya Reaffirms That Police Only Approach to Public Safety Is Killing Black People

Scott Roberts, senior director of criminal justice and democracy campaigns at Color Of Change issued the following statement following the video footage released by the Grand Rapids Police in the murder of Patrick Lyoya:

“The murder of Patrick Lyoya, who was shot at point-blank range and killed by a Grand Rapids Police Officer during a traffic stop, was tragic, preventable, and reminscent of countless incidents of police officers killing Black people. The police acted with callous indifference, traumatizing the Grand Rapids community — particularly its Black immigrant population — and ripping apart Patrick’s family. Our hearts are with them during this devastating time.

We stand with Patrick’s family and the Grand Rapids community to demand that officials disclose the name of the police officer who shot and killed Patrick, and ensure the officer is fired. Additionally, we echo demands for a thorough federal investigation into both Patrick’s murder and the history and culture of racist violence in the Grand Rapids Police Department.

For years, people in Grand Rapids and across the country have taken a stand against police violence, calling for community-led alternatives to policing that would have prevented this senseless murder from happening in the first place. Yet, the calls for police reform and accountability have been met with more policing, bloated police budgets, and surveillance technology that spies on and terrorizes Black communities. But these tactics only endanger our communities. When we rely on public safety approaches that start and end with police — like we’re seeing in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and elsewhere — police violence becomes inevitable. Patrick’s murder makes it clear that when a police-only approach to public safety is the default response, tragedy becomes the norm. Elected officials and legislators cannot continue to rely on ineffective, racist, and violent policing as a response to every crisis. We need lawmakers at every level of government to invest in the programs and resources that help communities thrive — this includes housing, education, mental health care, alternative first responders and violence interruption programming.

It is past time we advance forward-thinking, community-led solutions to public safety without expanding the current police-only approach. That is the only way our communities can truly be safe.”

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