April 2, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Grand Rapids. Mich – On March 18, city police visited the homes of students and transit workers, threatening to arrest them for taking part in a peaceful sit-in nearly two months earlier protesting a 16% fare increase and the termination of transit workers’ pensions.
“I was surprised and scared that there was a Grand Rapids police detective at my door to question me,” Grand Valley State junior Jen Knickerbocker said in a statement put out by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 836 March 23. “It’s very frightening to be told you are going to be charged with a crime for participating in a peaceful protest at a public meeting.” Local 836 has been locked in a contract battle with “The Rapid,” the city’s public-transit system, for several months, and has won two federal-court injunctions ordering management not to punish workers who protested in public or spoke at public meetings. “This is a witch-hunt by Rapid CEO Peter Varga and the City of Grand Rapids,” ATU International President Larry Hanley said. Read more