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Grand Rapids' New Year's Eve party moved to Calder Plaza


GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- After six years at Rosa Parks Circle, the City of Grand Rapids is moving the location for this year's New Year's Eve party.

The event will be held at Calder Plaza, on Ottawa Avenue between Michigan and Lyon Street. City officials say they changed the location to allow for a larger crowd.

"We made the decision to move it to Calder Plaza to expand the event, make it a little more user friendly, and take it out of the chaos that is Monroe Avenue and Pearl Street on New Year's Eve," said Todd Tofferi, office of special events.

The city announced the change in a YouTube video on its Twitter account Tuesday.

The downtown New Year's party has been held in Rosa Parks Circle since 2008. Organizers have not yet announced which bands will perform this year.

Crowd in downtown G.R. protests Ferguson decision


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - Grand Rapids was one of many cities where rallies took place Tuesday, calling for justice and change.

A crowd gathered downtown at Rosa Parks Circle to share their concerns.

"People didn't even want to consider that he might have been guilty; it wasn't even going to be on the table, so a lot of us are upset and [there are] a lot of tears," says Brianna Urena-Ravelo.

Ravelo is one of the organizers of the demonstration. About 300 people showed up at the event, many of them holding signs that read, "Black lives matter."

A couple things stood out about the protest: it was peaceful, there was not much police presence in the area, and the crowd was quite diverse.

Changing Face of West Michigan: Diversity in Education


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- With the help of our partners at USA Today, we continue spending time looking at the "Changing Face of America." Today's segment looking at the "Changing Face of Education" when it comes to cultural diversity.

Local law professor offers analysis of Ferguson case


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- To add some perspective to the news out of Ferguson, Missouri, involving a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer involved in a fatal shooting, a professor from the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School joined the WZZM 13 News at 5.

See the video above to see Professor Devin Schindler's explanation of the grand jury process and his analysis of the situation.


My Town: Kent County Health Department offers free testing for World AIDS Day

My Town: Kent County Health Department offers free testing for World AIDS Day

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.— More than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV and nearly one in seven doesn’t know they are infected.

On Dec. 1, health officials across the nation will work to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS during World AID’s Day.  Here in West Michigan, the Kent County Health Department will be offering free HIV testing at three locations.  Each test will consist of a single finger poke, with preliminary results available in about 20 minutes.  Each person who gets tested will receive a gift card, while supplies last.  No appointment is necessary.

G.R. Urban League leader responds to Ferguson decision


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - As the nation keeps an eye on the situation in Ferguson, local leaders in Grand Rapids are sharing their perspective.

The Grand Rapids Urban League, traditionally an African American organization, says it helps people achieve self-sufficiency and equality.

The president of the Urban League, Joe Jones, says that what's happening in Ferguson is a teachable moment. He calls the death of Michael Brown a tragedy and says the incident should spark a much-needed discussion.

Jones says there are inequities in our country when it comes to certain communities.

Former tutor returns to stand in sex trial


GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The former high school tutor accused of having sex with one of her students returned to the stand in court in her own defense.

Abigail Simon started her second day of testimony Monday is in her trial on sexual assault charges. She is accused of assaulting a then 15-year-old boy from Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids.

Simon appeared frustrated Monday morning with the cross-examination from the prosecutor. When asked why she didn't report the incidents to school personnel, she said that the school would be more interested in protecting its reputation than helping her. She also said she was afraid of what the teen might do to her if he found out she told on him. Just one of many emotional exchanges between Simon and the Prosecutor, when like this: