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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 WhitmerGretchen WhitmerPope Francis swipes at groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in NYT op-ed Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Oregon governor urges hosts to 'uninvite' guests MORE’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.

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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. 

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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.