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

A horizontal testing scantron with almost all of the bubbles filled in

The Changes to AP African American Studies Are “Absolutely Political”: A Former College Board Worker Speaks Out

A former College Board worker explains how the company's "apolitical" pedagogical approaches privilege right wing ideas, even as the right wing accuses them of spreading "wokeism."

Jess DuBois

February 4, 2023

Massive Looting of Public Resources at Stake in District Detroit Redevelopment Scheme

Billionaire developers in Detroit have proposed capturing almost one billion dollars in public money to fund their newest project. The deal is far from sealed, but organized community opposition will be necessary to prevent approvals from sailing through.

Rita Singer

February 3, 2023

In Standoff Over Cop City, Police Are the Real Terrorists

For over two years, the protests and occupations against a police training center in Atlanta, Georgia flew under the radar of the mainstream press. Now, after the police murder of land defender Manuel Teran and the arrest of 19 protesters on charges of domestic terrorism, the standoff has gained national attention. But in the battle to defend the Weelaunee Forest and the people of Atlanta from the development of the massive “Cop City” training center, it is the Atlanta Police Department and the state that have been acting like terrorists.

James Dennis Hoff

January 27, 2023

Say His Name! Justice for Tyre Nichols

As the video footage of the police murder of Tyre Nichols is released today, it will be important for everyone who is against police violence to stand in solidarity and defend and join in the mobilizations demanding justice for his murder.

Tristan Taylor

January 27, 2023


High-angle view of protests in France on January 31 against President Macron's pension reforms.

Historic Protests in France: Where to for the French Working Class?

After two of the largest days of protest in over a decade, with unprecedented union support and student turnout, the workers and youth of France must push unions to take up a militant strategy to defeat not only this latest pension reform but also Macron and his government.

Antoine Ramboz

February 6, 2023
Polish soldiers, a zoom-in on a Polish flag on their uniform.

Poland Plans to Become the Most Powerful Military Power in Europe

The war in Ukraine has become a powerful driver of the militarization and rearmament of NATO member countries. Poland now plans to double its military spending with the goal of building the largest land army in Europe.

Otto Fors

February 6, 2023

The Strike Is Our Most Powerful Weapon, We Need to Use It against the Police!

Workers have the opportunity and ability to shut down the system. This is why Democrats, Republicans, and even the Squad broke the strike of the railroad workers. If we use our workplaces as organizing tools against racism and police murder, we can build the power to take control and shut them down! 

Julia Wallace

February 3, 2023

Dispatches from the Picket Lines: All Out for the Temple Graduate Workers Strike

A Temple faculty member reports.

Jason Koslowski

February 3, 2023