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Hundreds Of Protesters Gather At Capitol For Second Stay-At-Home Protest

While lawmakers met to deliberate whether or not to renew Governor Whitmer’s emergency declaration inside the capitol building, protesters outside decried the stay-at-home order as unconstitutional.
Abigail Censky, WKAR
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While lawmakers met to deliberate whether or not to renew Governor Whitmer’s emergency declaration inside the capitol building, protesters outside decried the stay-at-home order as unconstitutional.";

While lawmakers met to deliberate whether or not to renew Governor Whitmer’s emergency declaration inside the capitol building, protesters outside decried the stay-at-home order as unconstitutional.

Michigan State Police reported 400-700 people protested in Lansing. While overall the gathering was dwarfed by “Operation Gridlock,” the protest that took place in Lansing two weeks prior, more protesters gathered on the lawn Thursday—many of them failing to practice social distancing or wear masks.

Militias members mingled among people waving Don't Tread on Me, Trump 2020 and American flags, as protesters pumped signs that said “Tyrants Get the Rope,” “Recall Whitmer Now,” and “My body, My Choice NOT 2 wear a mask".

Teresa Goodman, a third-shift grocery store worker from Homer, Michigan skipped the chance to sleep before her shift to come protest. She said she initially supported the stay-at-home order but now she wants lawmakers to compromise so people can return to work.

There are so many people that are not as lucky as us to be able to still have a paycheck right now, and they can’t feed their families because of trivial orders that are violating their constitutional rights,” said Goodman.

Some protesters, like Goodman, said they were okay with initial measures taken by the Governor to flatten the curve in Michigan which remains in the top ten states for COVID-19 cases, and among the top three states for COVID-19 deaths.

But, Goodman argued, now it should be left up to individuals to choose whether or not they stay home, and an extension of the Governor’s emergency declaration should require approval from the Republican-dominated state legislature.

“Instead of quarantining the healthy people, you’re going to quarantine the sick people and the people who are immunocompromised before our economy completely collapses,” said Goodman.

Other protesters like Mardelle Messenger, from Perry, Michigan believe the stay-at-home order has been unconstitutional from start to finish.

Messenger said even though she’s high-risk for COVID-19 she hasn’t been following the stay-at-home order, “People are willing to just lay over and play dead, and let their rights be trampled on. I don’t agree with that.”  

Tim Rugg, a firefighter from Oakland County, agreed. Rugg held a Trump 2020 flag as he declared the Governor’s extension of the stay-at-home order through May 15th amounts to a “tyrannical takeover” and not a public health measure.

“Yeah there’s a virus, but it’s more of a politician problem that it’s gotten this far. There’s no reason for us to be locked down. She’s trashing our state,” he said.

Rugg continued, “Where’s the Governor’s medical license? Last time I looked she didn’t have a medical license. So, for her to say she wants to save lives…No she’s helping people lose their lives in other ways.”

Protesters were instructed to leave Trump memorabilia at-home after the first protest drew comparisons to a Trump rally. But many protesters didn’t comply.

“They’re not helping,” said Goodman who remained neutral and removed from the crowd in a star-spangled bandanna. “If they had read any of the comments from the last rally from the 14th they would know that, and they would also be practicing social distancing because the media ate ‘em alive.”

Later the protest made its way into the capitol building, where protesters they chanted “Let us in” and “Our House” outside of the House chamber and armed members of the militia overlooked the state Senate.

Lawmakers returned to the capitol in late March to extend the Governor’s initial emergency declaration, but the extension fell far short of the full 70 days the Governor requested. The extension expires on Thursday.   

The House adjourned without voting to extend the emergency declaration; instead, passing a resolution to allow House leadership to take legal action against the Governor. The Senate remained in session into the evening.

Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.
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