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Grand Rapids– A federal judge says Grand Rapids had an unconstitutional policy of arresting people on private property without hint of criminal behavior.

Judge Paul Maloney on Wednesday said evidence against the police department is “overwhelming.” Grand Rapids doesn’t dispute that police had routinely asked business owners to sign no-trespass letters. Officers then arrested certain people without warning, even if a business didn’t call to complain.

Assistant city attorney Pat Lannen says the practice changed in 2017. He says officers now warn people before considering an arrest.

Miriam Aukerman of the American Civil Liberties Union says one of the plaintiffs had been inside a business but was later arrested for trespassing while in the parking lot.

Aukerman says the policy declared illegal by the judge has affected hundreds of people. She says blacks were more likely to be arrested than whites.

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