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Grand Rapids Police caught lying

Outrage that cop called ex-Marine ‘loco’
By Tom Burke |
February 28, 2019
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Grand Rapids, MI protest demands end to police and ICE collaboration.
Grand Rapids, MI protest demands end to police and ICE collaboration. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Grand Rapids, MI – The Grand Rapids Police Department was caught lying and covering up for Captain Curt VanderKooi this week. VanderKooi racially profiled an ex-Marine and contacted ICE to detain him in November 2018. The recent Grand Rapids police investigation claims VanderKooi contacted ICE out of concern for possible ‘terrorism.’

However, Michigan ACLU lawyers and immigrant rights activists are pointing out that this is a blatant lie. The FBI is the agency that VanderKooi would contact, not Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Captain VanderKooi works with both and knows the difference.

The outrageous police behavior, followed by a police cover up, and seemingly backed by Mayor Bliss and the city commissioners, led protesters to shut down the city commission meeting on February 27.

Over 100 people attended the meeting, most of them immigrant rights supporters. Led by Movimiento Cosecha, dozens spoke, demanding the firing of Captain VanderKooi. They challenged the lies told by interim Police Chief David Kiddle.

Eventually protesters rose, leaving empty seats everywhere, and crowded in to the front of the commission chamber. They chanted, “Cops and ICE go hand in hand!” Mayor Bliss was forced to adjourn early.

In November 2018, police arrested Jilmar Ramos Gomez for property damage in a hospital stairwell, after he was found standing on a rooftop helipad. Police took his U.S. passport and other belongings and jailed him.

Then, as discovered by the Michigan ACLU, Captain Curt VanderKooi contacted ICE based solely on Ramos Gomez’s name. VanderKooi was off duty at the time - he was at home in his living room watching the news. In his email, the Captain VanderKooi refers to the ex-Marine as “loco” and “mad.” He asked ICE to look into his immigration status. ICE picked up Ramos Gomez just as he was released from jail.

Ramos Gomez was born in the U.S.; the police had his U.S. passport, and knew he suffers from PTSD. Yet the police investigation is simply saying Captain VanderKooi used “unprofessional language” and was reprimanded. Protests will continue to build against police repression until Grand Rapids ends its cooperation with ICE.