Thousands of protesters converged on the Michigan Capitol on Wednesday to protest the most recent stay-at-home order passed down by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this month.
The protesters were part of a rally hosted by the Michigan Conservative Coalition (MCC) called “Operation Gridlock,” which sought to fill the streets of Lansing with protesters in their cars. The rally began at noon and ran until roughly 2 p.m., according to the MCC.
Here’s some sound from the protest. It’s two hours before it’s scheduled to begin: pic.twitter.com/06V33kgyQs
— Craig Mauger (@CraigDMauger) April 15, 2020
“Michigan’s typical small business owners obey laws, but they may not notice the progressive agenda being pushed by our radical leftist Governor Whitmer,” said Rosanne Ponkowski, President of the MCC, in a statement Wednesday morning. “Dope shops are open, while cigar shops are closed.”
Whitmer’s extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order will keep Michigan residents inside until the end of April. It also places restrictions on stores, including limiting the number of customers inside at one time and requiring large stores to block off areas related to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centers, plant nurseries or paint.
“Citizens are frankly tired of being treated like babies,” said Marian Sheridan, an MCC co-founder, in a statement. “As adults, we now know what needs to be done to stay safe. We also believe the liberal attack on the economy is becoming a serious threat right now.”
Rally attendees were encouraged to “make noise and be disruptive,” but stay inside their vehicles. Some protesters came to the rally with signs.
“Liberty once lost is lost forever,” read a sign on a commercial van, according to the Detroit Free Press. Another on the Capitol’s front lawn read “Security without liberty is called prison,” and “Recall Whitmer” was on another.
Lt. Darren Green of the Michigan State Police told the Detroit Free Press that traffic was backed up more than a mile around the capitol in several directions.
“They’re doing a pretty good job of maintaining social distance,” Green said. “They’re being respectful and not causing any issues at all.”
Many protesters were passing close to each other and not wearing masks, and police officers in the area were also not wearing masks, the Detroit Free Press reported. The outlet also said that the Michigan State Police and the Lansing Police Department said there had only been on arrest as of 3 p.m.
Thousands of people from all over Michigan are converging on our state Capitol today to protest the governor’s restrictive “Stay Home” order and get their voices, and car horns, heard. #OperationGridlock pic.twitter.com/bgjH4wKCUQ
— MI House Republicans (@MI_Republicans) April 15, 2020
Everyone has the right to protest, but to be clear: Lansing is empty. We are almost entirely working remotely. All Operation Gridlock is accomplishing is blocking traffic for essential workers and first responders in the middle of a pandemic. This is silly and irresponsible.
— Laurie Pohutsky (@lpohutsky19) April 15, 2020
Whitmer said in a press conference that the rally “is going to come at a cost to people’s health,” although she respected the protesters’ right to free speech, according to The Detroit News.
“The sad irony here is that the protest was that they don’t like being in this stay-home order, and they may have just created a need to lengthen it,” Whitmer said. “…Just by congregating, they’ve made that a real possibility.”
Michigan currently has more than 28,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The death toll for the state is 1,921.
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