Armed Protesters Enter Michigan Capitol While Lawmakers Debate COVID Stay-At-Home Order

Protestors try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber and are being kept out by the Michigan State Police after the American Patriot Rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty protest for the reope... Protestors try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber and are being kept out by the Michigan State Police after the American Patriot Rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty protest for the reopening of businesses on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan on April 30, 2020. - The group is upset with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's mandatory closure to curtail Covid-19. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY / AFP) (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS

Armed protesters entered the Michigan capitol Thursday while Democrats and Republicans debated extending Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) emergency stay-at-home declaration.

The protesters had been removed from the building and the lawn a few hours after the protests surrounding the capitol began, the Clerk of the House’s office told TPM.

Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D) tweeted a picture from the Senate floor earlier on Thursday, saying that some of her colleagues had donned bulletproof vests.

“They were very upset by each call to recess and incorrectly believed that the ‘do nothing Democrats’ (their words) called the recesses,” Polehanki told TPM. “Republican leadership actually determines our schedule.”

“Yes, it is nerve wracking to have people who are angry with you above you in the gallery holding rifles,” she added. “But this is legal in Michigan.”

Matt Schmucker, photographer for Michigan State’s State News, captured protesters who’d gathered to call for “freedom” from Whitmer’s stay-at-home order moving inside the capitol building.

Guns are permitted inside the Michigan capitol though, oddly, protest signs are not.

“These folks are a small minority of people who are vocally opposed the governor’s stay at home executive order,” Rosie Jones, a spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D), told TPM. “Although, their message is muddled with inflammatory language like ‘tyrants get your rope’ and images of swastikas and confederate flags.”

Whitmer’s emergency declaration expires Thursday at midnight, and Republicans seem so far unwilling to extend it. Though it’s not clear whether, under Michigan law, the governor needs their approval, temperatures have risen in recent days as Republicans call for businesses to be reopened.

Whitmer’s office on Wednesday leaked emails with the Republican Senate Majority leader showing that she had refused to accept temporary extensions in exchange for a promise that she would issue future stay-at-home orders via the legislature and not through an executive order.

Senator Mike Shirkey’s (R) spokesperson said that after the leak, any desire in the Republican caucus to work with the governor had “evaporated.”

This story has been updated with comments from Sen. Polehanki.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Sincerely,
TPM Staff
Latest News
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: