Hundreds of Michigan residents demonstrated Thursday outside the State Capitol in Lansing, some pushing inside while the Legislative Assembly debated an extension of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Protesters waved signs, waved American flags and even carried firearms while some chanted, “Let us in!” and “This is the house of the people, you cannot lock us up”, and others tried to climb onto the floor of the house but were blocked by state police and sergeant-at-arms, according to WDIV-TV, a subsidiary of NBC in Detroit.
A state police spokesperson told NBC News that it is legal in Michigan to carry firearms as long as it is done with legitimate intent and the gun is visible.
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The protest, dubbed “American Patriots’ Rally,” was organized by Michigan United for Liberty to call for the reopening of businesses.
State legislators are expected to vote on the 28-day extension of the state of emergency before its expiration at midnight.
Whitmer, a Democrat who has faced a fierce backlash for her strict stay-at-home mandate, extended the order earlier this month until May 15, but eased some restrictions on public activity as state coronavirus cases are stabilizing. The state, however, still has over 40,000 cases and is one of the hardest hit states.
The declaration of emergency allows Whitmer to use his emergency powers to use executive decrees during a crisis; its extension is separate from the extension of the residence order.
As protests moved inside the rainy steps of the Capitol, police took the temperature of those entering the building using a forehead thermometer, according to WOOD-TV, an NBC affiliate at Grand Rapids.
Like the April 15 “Operation Gridlock” demonstration to stay at Whitmer’s house, many of the protesters appeared to be supporters of President Donald Trump, wearing “Make American Great Again” campaign hats, and in one case , putting on a dance routine by two girls wearing masks that appeared to be Trump and former President Barack Obama.
Michigan Republican lawmakers, who control both houses, have reported that they would like to see the state reopen safely soon and opposed Whitmer’s request to extend his declaration of emergency.