(LANSING, Mich.) — A crowd of hundreds, estimated between 400 to 700, descended on Michigan’s Capitol building in protest of state leaders debating whether or not to extend the stay-at-home order. State legislators, at the time, were meeting to discuss the lockdown, which was to end on Thursday.
Most protestors were not wearing masks as they screamed in the faces of state police officers standing outside the chambers and blocking them from progressing further. The chambers are closed due to health precautions.
The protestors argue that the stay-at-home measures are costing their livelihoods, but a judge has since ruled in a lawsuit brought against the governor that the measures do not violate the citizens’ constitutional rights.
Michigan Senator Dayna Polehanki confirmed some protestors were armed, which forced her colleagues to wear bulletproof vests.
“I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today,” she tweeted, including a photo of the armed men.
Two people were arrested for fighting each other and no summonses were issued by police.
This rally could affect Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency power, as she has already extended COVID-19 prevention measures until May 15.
Whitmer reacted to the news of the protest and said that, although it is legal to carry a firearm in public “as long as the person is carrying the firearm with lawful intent and the firearm is not concealed,” she discouraged protestors putting themselves and first responders at risk — including the potential of becoming infected with COVID-19 due to defying social distancing measures.
Tiffany Brown, a spokeswoman for Whitmer, said “It’s disappointing to see people congregating without masks, and without practicing social distancing. This kind of activity will put more people at risk, and it could mean that more people will die.”
Michigan has reported over 40,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the state’s death toll stands at more than 3,600 as of Thursday.
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