Amid a showdown between Michigan’s Democratic governor and its Republican-majority House of Representatives on Thursday — which saw Republicans vote to sue Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for unauthorized use of power and Whitmer issue executive orders extending the state’s emergency declaration until May 28 and her”stay-at-home” order until May 15 — hundreds of protesters, some of them armed, descended on Michigan’s Capitol building in Lansing, many entering.
“Hundreds of people protested outside the Michigan Capitol building in Lansing on Thursday, with some pushing inside while the Legislature was debating an extension of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” NBC News reported Thursday. “Protesters held signs, waved American flags and even carried firearms, while some chanted ‘Let us in!’ and ‘This is the people’s house, you cannot lock us out.’ Others tried to get onto the House floor but were blocked by state police and sergeants-at-arms, according to NBC affiliate WDIV of Detroit.”
Video posted by Local 4’s Rod Meloni captured a moment where a large group of protesters moved inside the Capitol building:
Protest moves inside Michigan Capitol. Crowd attempts to get onto Hoise floor. Lots of Michigan State Police and House sergeants at arms blocking door. pic.twitter.com/4FNQpimP4W
— Rod Meloni (@RodMeloni) April 30, 2020
The demonstration, called the “American Patriot Rally,” was organized by a group called Michigan United for Liberty.
As a state police spokesman confirmed to NBC News, carrying firearms in the Capitol building is perfectly legal “as long as it’s done with lawful intent and the weapon is visible.”
Democratic State Senator Dayna Polehanki tweeted out a photo of some of the armed protesters, writing, “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.”
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
After the Michigan Republicans’ move to take legal action against Whitmer’s “unauthorized use of power,” Whitmer issued three executive orders extending that power. The orders give her emergency authority until May 28 and extend her “stay-at-home” policy until May 15.
As The Daily Wire reported, the governor issued a statement along with her executive orders Thursday citing “independent sources of statutory authority” as her legal grounds of extending the orders. Republican lawmakers, she declared, are “putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk.”
“We’re all in this together,” said Whitmer. “Defeating COVID-19 is an all hands on deck moment for our state, and I remain hopeful that Republicans in the legislature will stop the partisan games and start working with me to re-engage our economy safely and responsibly.”
But Michigan Republicans say this isn’t about politics and put the blame on Whitmer for failing to work with them. “Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield (R-MI) told the Detroit Free Press that the legislature was willing to work with Whitmer on some of the measures she wanted, excluding a statewide stay-at-home order, but that the governor declined to do so,” the Wire reported.
“The idea we want to put an abrupt end to the state of emergency and go back to normal immediately is a lazy political talking point,” said Chatfield, as reported by ABC-12. “We all agree Michigan must continue taking strong steps to fight the spread of this disease. But we can both protect the public health and protect the individual people who make up our great state.”
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