A crowd of about 250 people gathered outside of the state capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, on Thursday for the first reopen rally since lawmakers in the state began pushing for a ban on lawfully carried firearms inside the building. According to local press accounts, about a dozen or so of the protesters came bearing arms, while some attendees chastised local media for focusing almost exclusively on those exercising their Second Amendment rights while ignoring the economic reasons that brought folks from across the state to the capitol steps.
“The govenor is lying to you, I hope this is live,” one of the protesters, Laura Roush, said.
Roush told News 10 she is running for a spot in the Michigan House of Representatives. She said the media is focusing more on gun carriers and sign carriers, when in reality, their whole group is more peaceful than not.
“I did that to bring attention to the fact that the media is focusing on a few people that might look more threatening, when we as a group are not threatening,” Roush told News 10. “We are here to just show that we have rights, that we want to protect our rights, I mean what’s happening right now is ridiculous.”
She said people deserve to be able to work.
“We deserve to go out there and be the soldiers we are to protect our way of life and that is us going out and working right now,” Roush said.
WILX-TV reports that capitol police made one arrest during the protest, but says the individual arrested was carrying an axe, not an AR-15 or a firearm. The Detroit Free Press, meanwhile, reported that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was playing up the prospect of unrest by protesters before the event even took place.
In the days leading up to the protest, officials braced for a tense affair given similarly themed, volatile gatherings last month and threatening online chatter directed at Whitmer recently.
“The fact of the matter is the Michigan Capitol is one of the few in the country where people can come bearing guns. … What we anticipate seeing tomorrow is people using those guns to intimidate others,” Whitmer said Wednesday.
I’m sure the governor is disappointed that the protest was a peaceful one because she’ll have a hard time trying to portray the attendees as violent extremists intent on doing harm. Whitmer was definitely a focus of the protest, with several speakers demanding the governor step down or be removed from office.
As a light but steady rain fell on Capitol Plaza, the protesters, with dozens of members of the media on-hand, gathered to listen to speakers, who were positioned under a popup canopy on the steps of the statehouse and called for Whitmer’s arrest or resignation, even demanding the state Legislature take a vote of no-confidence. The first few speakers seemed to find great favor with neither political party, though they stated a preference for Republicans because they said they’re not as bad as Democrats.
Early speakers expressed a more Libertarian streak, and said Whitmer is bucking more to be Joe Biden’s vice-presidential nominee than to keep the interests of her constituency at heart.
While the Free Press reported that only a handful of protesters were visibly armed, NPR ignored the vast majority of protest attendees and painted a picture of a protest comprised solely of guys and gals with guns.
Despite heavy rain, armed protesters gathered Thursday at the State Capitol in Michigan in what the organizing group, Michigan United for Liberty, has branded “judgment day.”
This was the third planned demonstration since Michigan has been under a stay-at-home-order from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Ahead of Thursday’s protest, comments were made in private Facebook groups threatening Whitmer and lawmakers with violence, according to reporting by the Detroit Metro Times.
When asked about the threats in a Wednesday appearance on ABC’s The View Whitmer said, “I would be not truthful if I said it didn’t bother me. It certainly does.”
Whitmer added, “These protests, in a perverse way, make it likelier that we’re going to stay in a stay-home posture.”
If the protests make it more likely that the governor keeps the state locked down, that’s her decision. People have a right to peaceably assemble, they have a right to protest, and for now, anyway, they have the right to legally carry on the capitol grounds and in the capitol building.
At the moment, Michigan is currently using about 66-percent of ICU beds and less than 33-percent of all ventilators in the state. Hospitalizations for the coronavirus in the state have dropped by about 65-percent since early April, and the number of new cases continues to decline as well. In other words, the state has bent the curve downward, but Whitmer’s still threatening to keep the state locked down because people are speaking up.
Today’s protest may not have been as large as previous gatherings, but I think organizers should be pleased that several hundred individuals turned out in a cold spring rain to get their message across peacefully. Gov. Whitmer spent a lot of time this week hoping to convince Michiganders to be afraid of those protesting, but those exercising their First and Second Amendment rights in Lansing on Thursday proved her wrong.