Sunday, March 16, 2008

War protest marches through downtown Grand Rapids

Up to 300 antiwar protesters marched their way through downtown Grand Rapids yesterday - chants, signs, banners, props, drums, the works - and managed to hit just about every major street in the downtown area. Activate, the local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, organized the march.

Staring at Heartside Park, they made their way up to Division St. (Business 131 - a very busy artery that runs through town), and found that you cannot shut down a major road without the GRPD getting a little upset.

GRPD Confronts Marchers

As the marchers wound through downtown, they spilled onto the roadway along Fulton Street, Division Avenue and Monroe Center NW. With no parade permit, the group could not legally use the roadway.

The group's biggest run-ins with Grand Rapids police came on Division and on Monroe Center. In both cases, police urged the crowd back onto the sidewalk, arresting two people police say intentionally kept to the street.

I managed to catch them slapping the cuffs on one kid...

March Down Division - Heartside

Two cop cars pulled up and blocked the road, trying to force the march up on the sidewalk. Apparently they weren't moving fast enough, or maybe something was said - but all of a sudden they grabbed this kid and bent him over the car...


Needless to say, this action prompted people to move a little quicker out of the street, after some booing and shouting back and forth. For the rest of the march, 4-5 cop cars shadowed the procession with various pleas to the crowd to stay out of the road, stopping traffic at various intersections so the massive line could proceed. At one point, someone threw a snowball at a cruiser and drew a warning from a bullhorn-

"Please, do not throw snowballs at the police cars. That's not nice."

Mumbles of "sorry" came from the crowd.

That's Grand Rapids in a nutshell. We are basically a polite bunch.

Here are some more pictures-

Peace Side Up

Peace side up. Taken during the gathering at Heartside Park.

March Up Cherry

Coffin marches up Cherry St., this is before the Division confrontation.

Troops Out Now

Troops out now. From Division St, the group marched to Fulton, through Veterans Park, past GRCC, and towards Michigan St. Anyone who knows GR knows that this is a nice little hike, especially if you have been sitting in front of a computer all winter. My legs are killing me this morning.

Veterans Park

A few counter protesters were in Veterans Park, but they were no match for the size of this crowd. They made a feeble attempt to block the marchers, but quickly gave up.

Fountain Street Church

Past Fountain Street Church.

March Down Michigan - GR Press

Down Michigan St. That is the GR Press building in the background. Someone hung a banner - "Media Lies = Iraq War" - up on the railing.

DeVos Place - Where is the Rage?

DeVos Place - Where is the Rage?


People in town for the Sport Fishing and RV Show were probably a bit confused.

Marchers Van Andel

And finally past Van Andel Arena, on the way back to Heartside.

More pictures of the march are located here.