NYT details Michigan GOP’s involvement with militia groups, empathy for insurrectionists

Michigan GOP Leader Shirkey said he ‘understands where they come from’

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2019 file photo, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, watches during the State of the State address at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. Michigan lawmakers plan to convene for the first time in weeks to lengthen Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency declaration amid the coronavirus pandemic but are at odds over the extension and whether the session is even necessary. The Republican-led Legislature is scheduled to meet Tuesday, April 7, 2020, three weeks after last voting. Shirkey's spokeswoman said He thinks we can come to some middle ground in terms of the extension, and that doesn't preclude it from being extended again if were necessary at some point. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File) (Al Goldis)

DETROIT – A New York Times article published Tuesday details Michigan GOP leader Mike Shirkey’s involvement with militia groups and his empathy for insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol.

The article, titled, “‘Its Own Domestic Army’: How the G.O.P. Allied Itself With Militants,” offers an inside look at how involved Michigan GOP leaders were in coordinating with militia groups through various protests in 2020, leading up to the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January.

The New York Times reports that after an armed militia protested at the Michigan Capitol in April, Michigan GOP Senate Leader Shirkey suggested they “leave the guns at home next time” -- but then participated in the next event -- here’s what NYT reports:

Initially, Republican leaders had some misgivings about their new allies. “The optics weren’t good. Next time tell them not to bring guns,” complained Mike Shirkey, the State Senate majority leader, according to one of the protest organizers. But Michigan’s highest-ranking Republican came around after the planners threatened to return with weapons and “militia guys signing autographs and passing out blow-up AR-15s to the kiddies on the Capitol lawn. “To his credit,” Jason Howland, the organizer, wrote in a social media post, Mr. Shirkey agreed to help the cause and “spoke at our next event.”


Shirkey would indeed participate in events with the same groups, rallying against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions. “Stand up and test that assertion of authority by the government. We need you now more than ever.” Some in this group would later be charged with plotting to kidnap and kill the governor.

The NYT also reports that Shirkey held a meeting with militia groups in his office to establish a “code of conduct.”

“Do you tell your people to make sure that there’s not a live round in a chamber? That’d be a good start.”

On the Capitol riots in January, Shirkey told the NYT: “It was people feeling oppressed, and depressed, responding to what they thought was government just stealing their lives from them. And I’m not endorsing and supporting their actions, but I understand where they come from.”

The Capitol riot on January 6 has resulted in more than 100 federal charges, and claimed the lives of five, including a Capitol police officer.

You can read the full, in-depth New York Times article right here.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.