Michigan — In what many are calling a historic event, thousands protest in Michigan Wednesday as tensions surrounding the state stay-at-home order mount.
Healthcare workers, EMTs, off-duty police officers, some military personnel, and thousands of others participated in the protest. Armed citizens even stormed the steps of the capitol building.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order is in effect through April 30, and gatherings of any size outside a home are strictly prohibited.
Officials say Whitmer’s stay-at-home order is “extreme” and includes “extreme measures” that are not necessary.
According to Michigan Conservative Coalition organizer, Meshawn Maddock, the order called for certain streets, highways, and exits to be closed. The order also prohibits travel (including house to house), unless related to work, doctor visits, or food pickups.
The order also limits what a person can purchase in a store and outlines what the Governor considers essential items.
For instance, if a person were to go into a box store and decide to purchase a new T.V, bug spray, American flag, seeds, plants, paint, a car seat, and many other items, they would not be considered essential and the purchase would not be allowed. The same applies to those who attempt to fuel up a boat.
Maddock said, “Most all businesses are closed, people are frustrated.”
Workers who most states consider essential, Whitmer does not.
Citizens say they are protesting much more than just a stay-at-home order, it is about civil liberty.
Lansing nurse, Peggy White, who participated in Wednesday’s protest, wrote on Facebook, “Myself and dozens of my colleagues participated in this protest. We understand the risks, but we would rather have our liberties.”
As thousands of protesters shut down Lansing and stormed the state capitol during “Operation Gridlock”, four Northern Michigan sheriff’s, in a joint press release, voiced their concerns about Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.
Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel, Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich, and Manistee County Sheriff Ken Falk said they will not strictly enforce Whitmer’s orders in their counties.
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The sheriffs said, “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 and we believe that we are the last line of defense in protecting your civil liberties.”
The sheriffs said they should be focusing on reopening their counties and getting people back to work, not tightening restrictions.
“While we understand Whitmer’s desire to protect the public, we question the restrictions that she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority,” the sheriffs said. “She has created a vague framework of emergency laws that only confuse Michigan citizens.”
The sheriffs say they absolutely believe that the Constitution overrides any local or state law.
The sheriffs went on to say, “Together, as a community, we will overcome this pandemic, and as Americans, we will persevere and come out stronger than before. 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.”
Lansing police told Ocala Post that there were no reported injuries or property damage. Police said there were reports that legally armed citizens were “waiving guns” in the air, but that the information being spread over social media was completely false.
Officials said they were made aware of several rumors that just were not true. No one was arrested, detained, and no warnings were written. They said that citizens were asked to stay in their vehicles during the protest, however, it is not the law.
“Everyone has the right as a citizen to protest and this protest was very peaceful,” the department said.
Additionally, police said protesters were respectful and also made sure that there were no emergency vehicles blocked if one tried to pass. This contradicts a rumor started by Chelsea Barrera, an employee at the Sparrow Professional Building, who said the emergency entrance and emergency vehicles were being blocked.
A spokesperson with Sparrow said the emergency entrance was not blocked and that they are looking into Barrera’s accusations.
Many of the rumors that were perpetuated, were started by Whitmer herself. In fact, officials said she was “hand feeding” information to MSNBC and [that] particular media outlet just “ran with it” without verifying facts.
Whitmer responded to the protest by threatening a longer, more strict quarantine. She said the protest “was nothing more than a Trump rally.”