Students Hold Protest over Police Brutality

GVSU Students Protested the Shooting of an Unarmed Student During A Drug Investigation

The group Protest for Peace @ GVSU!!!! held a protest today on the campus free speech zone at the Transitional Link structure. It was in response to the Ottawa County police shooting an unarmed student at the Campus View apartment complexes on Wednesday night, 3/11/09.

The full details have not been released on the incident but the police department has confirmed that the student, Derek Copp, was unarmed during the entire duration of the raid. Copp is currently in critical condition at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, he was shot in the upper right chest. The police department did have a search warrant, and apparently entered his apartment through the back sliding door. Further details are unknown.

People began assembling around 10:30 at the Transitional Link structure. The angry students shouted and chanted “why” and “non-lethal force, the only way of course!” as their pupils passed by during the breaks between classes. A total of four faculty members joined the protesters in chanting or speaking on the megaphone.

By 12:00, protest music was blaring from a nearby truck and roughly 40 students were there passing out information, carrying signs, and chanting. Some signs there read “Marijuana is deadly: it gets you shot” and “Ottawa County Police Department: Shoot first, ask questions after.”

The Ottawa County Police Department has not released information if drugs were found at the scene of the shooting.

The reaction from passing by students was mostly neutral, they would take the information or read the signs and keep walking. There were a couple of instances of students stopping and joining the protesters, and also a few negative reactions. A common criticism of the protest was that all the information on the shooting was not yet available. That it’s possible that the shooting was justified, and that a protest should be reserved for once this is known or not.

It is known however that Copp was unarmed at the time, and that the officers outnumbered him five to one. The group has made a list of demands, which were given to the administration during the protest. The demands include:

  • A statement on behalf of the university, renouncing the incident
  • The university takes proper steps against the Ottawa County Sheriff Department
  • The university take a leading position in addressing the state-wide discrepancies in policies dealing with the use of recreational drugs

There’s no news on the university’s stand on the incident. Only a short news story on the GVNow website.

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Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org