Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Cop Who Murdered Patrick Lyoya Charged with Second-Degree Murder

In a victory for the movement in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the county prosecutor announced second-degree murder charges against Christopher Schurr, the cop who shot Patrick Lyoya in the head.

Tristan Taylor

June 11, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share
Mug shot of Christopher Shurr who killed Patrick Lyoya

On Thursday, June 9, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker, a Republican, announced that he was bringing second-degree murder charges against Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) officer Christopher Schurr over the fatal shooting of 26 yr old Patrick Lyoya. Lyoya, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo and father of two, was shot in the head by Schurr on April 4 during a traffic stop.

Many activists, community members, and even law professors called for County Prosecutor Becker to recuse himself from the case and assign a special prosecutor because of his connections with the police union, which donated $1,000 to his 2016 campaign run. Becker sought to indirectly express those concerns in his press conference on Thursday. According to Bridge Detroit, Becker “hope[s] the public (opinion) reflects the care and concern” he took in making the decision to charge Schurr. 

Becker mentioned that the community was “split” on whether or not Schurr should be charged, and acknowledged that there was “huge amount of community pressure that think I should charge, and if I don’t charge things are gonna happen” but said that he received an email “from someone” on his way to the press conference telling him that he should not charge him. This, in part, shows the public pressure the movement was able to organize in demanding Schurr be charged for the murder of Patrick Lyoya. 

However, Becker’s remarks show that the movement has to remain active in order to get a guilty verdict for Patrick. Becker made it clear that he was not “sending a message” with the charges. The movement should not trust Becker to do his best to present a strong case on behalf of Patrick, and cannot simply rely on the courts to automatically deliver justice for Patrick. 

Patrick Lyoya’s Case Is in the National Spotlight

Lyoya’s case has received national media attention, with news of the charge being reported by CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, to name a few. National civil rights leaders like Al Sharpton (who delivered Lyoya’s eulogy at his funeral) and civil rights attorney Ben Crump (who represent Lyoya’s family) are involved. Yet, the racist harassment and repressive treatment experienced by local leaders of the movement at the hands of GRPD has not received the same attention. This has to change. 

The same atmosphere that makes it possible for police to harass protesters is the same one that allows police to feel emboldened to use lethal force. National leaders like Al Sharpton and Ben Crump need to denounce the treatment of activists and demand their charges be dropped, but activists in Grand Rapids and across the country need to understand why this hasn’t happened yet, and why these leaders need to be called out for it.

Al Sharpton and Ben Crump receive benefits like speaking tours, book deals, and radio and tv shows for their roles as containers of struggles against racism who often chastise the movement for being too militant and too radical. While they sometimes criticize the Democratic Party, they are fundamentally aligned with them because of their belief that capitalism is the best system we can hope for. They play a central role in getting out the vote for the Democrats, mostly by diverting struggles to the polls, which prevents the movements from taking a more combative, radical, and independent character. That is why leaders like Sharpton and Crump fail to speak forcefully against the police, and why they have consistently failed to offer solidarity to activists facing charges.

Certainly, the national media and spotlight on Partick Lyoya’s murder helped the movement secure this victory. This same struggle and attention also needs to be focused on the racist harassment and repression of activists, and on getting the charges against protesters dropped. It’s up to the progressive and revolutionary activists and organizers to build a national movement to demand justice for Lyoya, and that all charges against activists in Grand Rapids who are fighting for him are dropped. Every social justice organization and union should organize actions and statements of support for these demands. 

Facebook Twitter Share

United States

Activists in Detroit speaking at a press conference condemning repression of the pro-Palestine movement on May 20, 2024.

Detroit Activists Hold Press Conference to Condemn Repression of Pro-Palestine Protesters

Detroit Will Breathe organized a press conference to discuss the police violence and repression against pro-Palestine protesters. The movement must stand in solidarity and unite to combat the increase of repression.

Kyle Thibodeau

May 23, 2024
Protesters carrying Palestinian flags march on a street in front of a line of cops

Activists, Including Left Voice and Detroit Will Breathe Members, Arrested at Protest of Biden in Detroit, Free All Arrested and Drop All Charges

Detroit police brutally arrested activists who were protesting outside of Biden's speech to the NAACP.

Left Voice

May 19, 2024
Tents at the Rutgers University in NJ during the Palestine encampment in May, 2024

What the Movement for Palestine Can Learn from the Rutgers Encampment Deal

The Gaza solidarity encampment at Rutgers New Brunswick ended in a deal between the administration and a negotiations team at the camp. It’s been a highly controversial decision. The experience at Rutgers shows the need for a truly democratic, bottom-up fight for Palestine.

Jason Koslowski

May 17, 2024
Pro-Palestine encampment at UCLA in May, 2024.

“The Working Class has the Power to Stop this Genocide”: Interview with a UAW 4811 Rank and Filer

On Thursday May 15, 48,000 UAW Academic workers voted to authorize a strike, the largest academic workers union in the country to do so. Left Voice interviewed UAW 4811 member Peter Ross about what sparked this historic vote, and the labor movement’s fight for Palestine

Julia Wallace

May 16, 2024


Two large signs that read "UC Divest from Genocide" and "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" behind the two signs a "UAW on Strike sign" pokes out

Dispatch from Day 2 of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia reports on the second day of her trip to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers.

Olivia Wood

May 25, 2024

Why Won’t PSC-CUNY Stand with Palestine Now?

While other higher education unions are going on strike in defense of their workers and against the genocide in Gaza, the bureaucratic leadership of PSC-CUNY just crushed a resolution calling on the university to divest from Israel and to drop the charges against Palestinian activists arrested on April 30. 

James Dennis Hoff

May 24, 2024

Attack on Pro-Palestinian Protestors at UMich Latest Example of Democrats Defending Israel’s Genocide in Gaza

Capitalist apologists from the Democratic Party have chosen their business partners in Israel’s far-right government over Palestinian lives. In Ann Arbor, those same so-called “progressive” Democrats decided to bring felony charges against protestors earlier this week, encouraging harsh police violence against the University of Michigan encampment.

Ryan McCarty

May 24, 2024
A sign for the University of California at Santa Cruz with a line of UAW signs in front of it

Dispatch from Day One of the UC Santa Cruz Picket Line for Palestine

Left Voice member and City University of New York worker Olivia traveled to Santa Cruz for UAW 4811’s historic strike to talk to workers. This is her dispatch from the first day of the strike.

Olivia Wood

May 22, 2024