LANSING, Mich. – A smaller group of protesters gathered Thursday in Lansing to rally against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order. Some protesters had guns, and police said they confiscated an axe.
Whitmer said she thinks Michigan is getting close to being ready for small personal gatherings.
“There is the very real chance that we can take the next step forward in the next phase, and that could include the potential of, you know, 10 or less gatherings, but the fact of the matter is, we can’t say that definitively right now," Whitmer said.
The current restrictions were enough to spark another protest at the state Capitol. Thursday’s rally was much smaller than the two from the last month, partly because of the pouring rain.
But the protest was still eventful. Police said they confiscated an axe, and there were a couple of skirmishes. Gun-toting protesters were visible, but nobody was arrested, officials said.
Michigan State Police troopers were more visible as protesters huddled in the driving rain throughout much of the morning.
Protest organizer Adam De Agneli said Whitmer’s characterizations of the rallies ignore the real frustration.
“People are here because they are seeing the state dramatically falling apart under the governor’s orders,” De Agneli said. “They want their liberty back and we want our property back.”
Rose Marie Denton, of Northville, said there’s more than civil rights at play.
“This has just gone on for way too long,” Denton said. “To keep extending this deadline and then tell us, the protesters (who) come out, ‘You children are going to be in your bedrooms for longer.’ She’s treating us like we’re small children, and it’s absurd. It’s why the people are here.”
Whitmer didn’t criticize the gathering Thursday.
“I do think it sounds as though nothing got too terribly out of control, and that’s a good thing,” Whitmer said.
But many of the protesters were close together, and few wore masks.
“They’re supposed to be wearing masks,” Whitmer said. “Everyone has to keep wearing masks.”
“People are adults, and I think part of the reason why people might not be wearing masks is because they want to make a statement,” De Agneli said. “They are not going to be subjected to this climate of fear.”
Whitmer is showing signs of being willing to move to the next phase of her reopening plan by the end of the month. Whether that placates protesters is another question.
Also on Thursday, the organizing group Michigan United For Liberty filed a lawsuit against Whitmer, seeking to remove her stay-at-home order.