Statement On Patrick Lyoya’s Death

Our deepest condolences go out to Patrick Lyoya’s family and friends. No one should ever have to mourn a loved one because of a traffic stop. We offer our solidarity to those protesting Lyoya’s killing, and we join Black Lives Matter MI in calling for the immediate firing of Christopher Schurr, the officer responsible for Lyoya’s death. 

In the four years since the Detroit Justice Center opened its doors, we have been dedicated to the work of ending criminalization and policing and building communities that are truly safe. We know this is an intergenerational struggle, and that we will not create the society we need by doubling down on police funding or passing reforms that only legitimize police power. 

Each time a police officer kills a person in the U.S.–so often a Black person–our hearts are heavy. In our own way, we tried to warn local legislators of the very real possibility of an unnecessary and senseless killing like that of Patrick Lyoya in Grand Rapids earlier this month. In 2020, we published the Highway Robbery report, which details the alarming rates at which Black people are racially profiled in Michigan, particularly in Metro Detroit but across the state as well. We put forward concrete actions that could make incidents like this less likely to occur, including not pulling people over for offenses unrelated to public safety or arresting individuals for traffic violations. We urge Michigan lawmakers to follow the lead of city councils in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia that have passed legislation to ban traffic stops for minor violations like license plate irregularities–the pretext that led to Lyoya’s death. Since traffic stops lead to hundreds of deaths at the hands of police each year, these changes have the potential to save lives and keep many families and communities from the grief of losing a loved one.

We hope we can contribute to this conversation in a way that resonates with Lyoya’s memory, and that those calling for justice know that we are walking with them during this difficult time.