As backlash mounts against the state’s highly restrictive “stay-at-home” order, some Democratic lawmakers in Michigan have begun to openly criticize Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
On March 23, Whitmer issued an executive order imposing the “temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.” The order, which has since been expanded and extended to April 30, shuts down all businesses and organizations deemed “not necessary,” bans gatherings “of any size,” bars non-essential travel “between residences,” and mandates that larger stores shut down “non-essential” departments and areas, including gardening centers and plant nurseries.
The “draconian” order has sparked protests, including “Operation Gridlock,” in which thousands of Michiganders descended on the state capitol on Wednesday to call for a more measured approach and to warn that “tyranny” is “worse than the virus.” Whitmer’s order has also prompted at least two federal lawsuits brought by several residents accusing the governor of violating citizens’ constitutional rights and a petition calling for her recall that has amassed over 270,000 signatures. Four Michigan sheriffs have also announced that they will not enforce some of her order.
While many of her critics are right-leaning, it’s not only conservative Michiganders who are directing criticism toward Whitmer over her handling of the crisis. Some of her fellow Democrats in the state are also voicing their frustration about how she’s responded to the pandemic. Townhall reports:
Democrat Mike Duggan, Mayor of Detroit, called his state’s system for reporting COVID-19 “not reliable,” as hospital officials also blame the state government for an inefficient system that ultimately leads to longer wait times.
Michigan State Rep. Karen Whitsett, a Democrat representing Detroit, alleged that Gov. Whitmer was giving federal officials incorrect information on the COVID-19 situation in Detroit, and told a Michigan news outlet that Gov. Whitmer was not doing enough:
“There is no need for me to have a conversation with someone who is not doing anything. I mean, if you are going to do something, then I want to have a conversation with you. If you are not going to do anything, I don’t have time to have a conversation with you. I have people dying in my city. I don’t have time to waste,” Rep. Whitsett said.
Warren Mayor Jim Fouts, an Independent, has also pushed back on Whitmer’s handling of the crisis, telling Detroit News, “I’m not going to support giving any citation. We have a large number of senior citizens, and many of them have special needs. They don’t own lawnmowers; they rely on commercial services.”
In their joint statement of dissent issued Wednesday, Sheriffs Mike Borkovich, Ted Schendel, Ken Falk, and Kim Cole explained why they oppose Whitmer’s executive overreach. “We write today to inform the public for our respective counties of our opposition to some of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders,” they said in a press release reported by Michigan Live.
“While we understand her desire to protect the public, we question some restrictions that she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority. She has created a vague framework of emergency laws that only confuse Michigan citizens,” the sheriffs explained. Rather than trying to abide by her “vague framework,” they will “deal with every case as an individual situation and apply common sense.”
“Each of us took an oath to uphold and defend the Michigan Constitution, as well as the US Constitution, and to ensure that your God given rights are not violated. We believe that we are the last line of defense in protecting your civil liberties,” the sheriffs said. “Our focus needs to be on reopening our counties and getting people back to work. We also need to be aware that this virus is deadly and that we need to continue to practice social distancing, washing of hands, wearing of masks as well as other medically recommended measures.”
“Together, as a community, we will overcome this pandemic, and as Americans, we will persevere and come out stronger than before,” the statement concluded. “As sheriffs of your community we want you to know we have your back and will continue to serve the people who have entrusted us with your protection.”
Related: Michigan Gov. Whitmer Hit With Multiple Lawsuits Over Coronavirus Order