LANSING, MI — Democratic lawmakers expressed intense sadness this week after watching graphic videos released Wednesday of a Grand Rapids Police officer who fatally shot Patrick Lyoya, an unarmed 26-year-old Congolese immigrant, in the back of the head.
Dozens of state senators and representatives took to social media to offer condolences to the Lyoya family and their frustration over the killing of another unarmed Black man by police.
“Now we do all these B.S. bills in this place about police,” said Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, during a speech on the Senate floor Thursday. “But we never do any that actually matter. Because, yet again, a Black man, Patrick Lyoya, is dead. Murdered at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and to serve us.”
Giess told her colleagues to save the victim blaming, before pointing out that Michigan is the oldest state to never have instituted a death penalty.
“And the punishment for a misdemeanor traffic stop is not murder,” Geiss said, adding that the state has passed nearly a dozen police reform bills over the years that have done nothing to curb police violence.
“I am so sick and tired of this crap,” she said. “We are tired.”
‘Frustrated and hurting’: Michigan Democrats demand accountability after fatal police shooting in Grand Rapids
Michigan Democrats are demanding accountability following the release of videos capturing the fatal police shooting of Patrick Lyoya, a 26-year-old Grand Rapids man.
While dozens of lawmakers are already describing Lyoya’s killing as murder, Sen. Adam Hollier, D-Detroit made the sharpest comments Wednesday, calling for the immediate arrest of the still-unnamed officer who shot Lyoya in the back of the head, which he called an “execution.”
The senator from Detroit released a video on social media saying that had Lyoya not been a Black man in his 20s, he would still be alive.
“It’s time to truly address the root cause and effect of over-policing Black people,” Hollier said in a statement. “The level of savagery that this human life was taken with would be incomprehensible if it were not so common inn our society. It feels like every day, one more thing gets added to the list of things you must teach your sons about when interacting with the police and survival.”
Legislative leaders from around Grand Rapids also issued statements Wednesday afternoon.
Rep. David LaGrand, D-Grand Rapids, said he was in Lansing Wednesday, but had already been in contact with city leaders to advocate for immediate steps to improve police policies.
“Patrick Lyoya is dead, at the hand of a police officer in Grand Rapids,” LaGrand said in a statement.
Democrats such as Sens. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, and Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, and others, have spent the week renewing calls for bipartisan police reform measures that have been stuck in committees.
Proposed legislation stalled in committees for multiple sessions include bills that would require de-escalation training or implicit-bias training, require independent investigations of police misconduct and ban no-knock warrants.
Michigan Senate blocks two Gov. Whitmer appointees to university boards
The Republican-led Senate voted Thursday, April 14, to block two appointments to university boards recently made by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted to disapprove the appointments of Michael Ryan to the Ferris State University Board of Trustees, and to disapprove the appointment of Jon Hoadley to the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees. The vote to block Ryan was 22-16, and senators voted 20-18 to block Hoadley’s appointment.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel questioned the Republican-led vote on Thursday, posting to Twitter: “If it wasn’t already clear that (the Michigan GOP) has declared open warfare on LGBTQ people, it should be now. Jon Hoadley is more than qualified for this position. This vote is outrageous.”
In a statement posted to his Twitter account, Hoadley said he was “extremely disappointed” in the Senate’s vote Thursday.
With over 800 vacancies, Michigan prisons consider rehiring retired officers to fill the gap
Michigan’s prisons are struggling with worker burnout due to “excessive” mandated overtime shifts as the Michigan Department of Corrections deals with more than 800 staff vacancies across the state, officials say.
House Bill 5765, which advanced in the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 12, aims to alleviate those staffing shortages by allowing retired corrections workers to come back and work for the state temporarily without losing their retirement allowance.
Sponsored by state Rep. Julie Alexander, R-Hanover, the bill would amend the State Employees’ Retirement Act to allow retired state employees to be reemployed as corrections officers at MDOC on a limited-term basis and without paid benefits. The amendment would expire two years after the bill is passed.
Legislation aims to prohibit fundraising loophole used by Gov. Whitmer
A bill that would set legal definitions for what is considered an active recall effort was discussed before the House Ethics and Elections Committee Tuesday.
House Bill 5910, sponsored by Ann Bollin, R-Brighton, would amend the Michigan Campaign Finance Act to require a recall candidate to form a recall committee within 10 days after becoming a recall candidate. The account would not need to be established until the recall committee receives a contribution or makes an expenditure.
Drunken driving arrest was a ‘wake-up call,’ says Michigan lawmaker after pleading guilty
State Rep. Mary Cavanagh, D-Redford Township, pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated earlier this week.
The charge stemmed from a February arrest, in which Cavanagh blew twice the legal limit for alcohol after driving with two flat tires. The Redford Township lawmaker faces up to 93 days in jail, according to Livonia City attorney Paul Bernier.
The plea agreement she entered into this week is contingent upon her successful completion of a sobriety program. Cavanagh would be able to drive with a restricted license, but would have to use a device that allows a vehicle to start only after the driver passes a test proving they are sober.
Cavanagh made her first public comment Thursday afternoon on her Instagram story, in which she took responsibility for her actions.
“There is no excuse for my decision that night, and I am extremely grateful no one was harmed, including myself,” Cavanagh said.
Republican voter ID bills would cut license renewal period from 12 to 8 years
A legislative panel heard testimony Tuesday about a bill package that would change Michigan election law to, among other things, require the secretary of state to update and replace the photo of a person applying for a renewal driver’s license and upload the updated photograph to the qualified voter file.
The House Election and Ethics Committee met Tuesday afternoon to hear testimony about legislation that would shorten the period when a person may renew his or her license or ID card by mail, before an in-person renewal visit is required, from 12 years to eight years.
Together, the bills would make it so Michigan law requires an updated photo be taken every eight years.
Karamo secures former secretary of state’s endorsement as GOP convention nears
Kristina Karamo, a Republican candidate for Michigan Secretary of State, has received an endorsement from fellow Republican and former Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.
Johnson served two terms as Michigan’s Secretary of State, from 2011-19, and the Republican from Holly currently serves as a state senator for Michigan’s 14th Senate District.
In Johnson’s endorsement, the state senator said she feels Karamo represents the Republican Party’s best chance to beat incumbent Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, in the November general election.
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