Armed protesters demonstrate inside Michigan state capitol
Hundreds were seen protesting at the Michigan state capitol in Lansing, with some armed demonstrators pushing inside as the legislature discussed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic.
Protesters brandished firearms, signs and American flags inside the statehouse, chanting “Let us in!” The protest marked just the latest action against Whitmer’s policies intended to blunt the coronavirus’s spread.
Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today. #mileg pic.twitter.com/voOZpPYWOs— Senator Dayna Polehanki (@SenPolehanki) April 30, 2020
At the MI Capitol pic.twitter.com/IuYoBhstIg— Anna Liz Nichols (@annaliznichols) April 30, 2020
The protest, named the "American Patriot Rally," was set up by Michigan United for Liberty and was meant as a call for legislators to allow businesses that have been shuttered to reopen.
Whitmer has faced sharp criticism over her handling of the coronavirus as protesters hammer her strict stay-at-home mandate, which has been extended to May 15. Whitmer has eased some restrictions, though the state still has more than 41,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
The governor’s emergency declaration, an extension of which was being debated Thursday, grants Whitmer emergency powers to use in times of crisis.
Republicans, who control both chambers of the state legislature, have indicated they want an expedited reopening of the state.
The protests across the country appear to have been formed along partisan lines, with several demonstrators in Michigan and at other rallies sporting Trump campaign paraphernalia.