REPORT: Proud Boys Plan Rally in Downtown Grand Rapids Saturday
The Proud Boys organization has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and classified as a white supremacist terrorist organization by Canada's House of Commons.
Reportedly, the rally is set to happen Saturday, July 10, at noon at Ah-Nab-Awen Park.
A demonstration to oppose the Proud Boys is also planned to start 1t 10a.m. .
Fox 17 spoke with Kent County Commissioner Robert Womack ahead of the rally, who says he hopes for no violence:
My first thought is that it's not good, but they do have freedom of speech. So, I'm sure they'll be putting their hate messages across the United States whenever they have the opportunity... Violence just continues to follow the Proud Boys from city to city and now the City of Grand Rapids and Kent County as a whole we have to deal with it... I'm just asking everybody to not resort to violence because it doesn't prove anything. It takes away from all messages.
Womack says his best advice is for people not to engage with the Proud Boys and to let the police handle it.
The Grand Rapids Police Department shared the following statement:
We are aware of a possible event tomorrow and our commitment remains the same as with previous free speech events. We will support the rights of free speech and assembly, while also maintaining safety for everyone.
Last August, the Proud Boys marched through Kalamazoo, violently clashing with bystanders and counter-protesters. Following criticism of the police's handling of those events, Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Karianne Thomas' contract was terminated by the city.
In June 2021, Thomas was hired in Grand Rapids as the police department's chief of staff. Despite pushback from advocacy groups, GRPD says they stand by the decision to hire Thomas.