Hundreds gathered outside and inside Michigan’s Capitol building Thursday to protest government overreach in the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown.
There were no reports of arrests, though some media outlets styled the event with armed protestors as “storming” the Capitol, American Greatness reported.
The protestors arrived to protest as lawmakers were gathered to vote on a possible extension of the statewide disaster and emergency declaration. Some were armed while others held American flags. The group first gathered outside the building before eventually entering, being stopped just outside the doors to the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives by state police, with some of the protesters chanting “Let us in.”
As a result, some mainstream outlets falsely labeled the protest as a “storming” of the legislature.
The protest was the latest display by Michiganders upset with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay at home order. Another notable protest was “Operation Gridlock” in which thousands of cars clogged Lansing streets in mid-April.
In late April, Whitmer renewed her stay at home order to May 15, The Michigan Star reported. The extension kept many provisions like limiting funerals to under 10 and telling people to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces. She allowed big box stores to reopen closed areas like garden centers.
Holding American flags and handmade signs, the demonstrators on Thursday first gathered shoulder-to-shoulder on the outside before demanding to be let inside the Capitol in Lansing, Fox News said.
BBC News reported that police checked some of the protestors’ temperatures before they entered the building.
Whitmer said Friday that her stay-at-home order is good through May 15, the Associated Press reported, despite Republicans’ refusal to extend her coronavirus emergency declaration.
She denounced the protest as ”disturbing,” noting there were swastikas, Confederate flags, nooses and some people with assault weapons who “do not represent who we are as Michiganders.”
Republicans authorized suing Whitmer over her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, BBC News said. She replied she does not need legislative authorization to extend the lockdown.
In response to the situation, investor Mike Coudrey tweeted, “It is a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It is a constitutional right to be in a “well-regulated militia.”
“The more liberal politicians stray away from the constitution, & enforce draconian policies, the more people will rebel against them.”
It is a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It is a constitutional right to be in a “well-regulated militia.”
The more liberal politicians stray away from the constitution, & enforce draconian policies, the more people will rebel against them.
— Mike Coudrey (@MichaelCoudrey) April 30, 2020
The topic was trending on Twitter under the hashtag “#MichiganProtest”. Many denounced the protestors, often in graphic terms, but they had support as well.
One user tweeted, “This is exactly why we protested, her ridiculous unjustifiable restrictions & removal of our freedoms w/o listening to our cries or the legislators; She’s destroying the lives of ALL while claiming that she is saving the lives of FEW #RECALLWHITMER #MichiganProtest”.
This is exactly why we protested, her ridiculous unjustifiable restrictions & removal of our freedoms w/o listening to our cries or the legislators; She's destroying the lives of ALL while claiming that she is saving the lives of FEW #RECALLWHITMER #MichiganProtest
— Maiden Mitten (@ethylmima04) May 1, 2020
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI-13) did not let the opportunity go to waste to play the race card and tweeted, “Black people get executed by police for just existing, while white people dressed like militia members carrying assault weapons are allowed to threaten State Legislators and staff. Our gun laws are so broken.”
Black people get executed by police for just existing, while white people dressed like militia members carrying assault weapons are allowed to threaten State Legislators and staff.
📣Our gun laws are so broken. https://t.co/w6Vw97kTV9
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) April 30, 2020
On Friday, The Star reported that Dr. Rob Steele published an open letter to the public as well as Michigan legislators. He said the coronavirus is no worse than the common flu and that shelter-in-place orders and other treatments should be restricted by region and industry.
“All available data suggests the mortality rate of COVID-19 in the general population will approximate that of the seasonal flu in the long run,” said Dr. Rob Steele, a doctor of internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, interventional cardiology and echocardiography. “It is the same patients in danger from either infection with similar hospitalization and mortality rates. Seasonal influenza is dramatically more dangerous for those ages 2 and under than COVID.”
“The goal of shelter in place orders was to ‘flatten the curve’ and protect the healthcare system,” Steele wrote. “With public private partnerships and large amounts of federal government funding and logistical support there are now plenty of PPE, ICU beds and ventilators available with many temporary overflow facilities being decommissioned without ever being used.”
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