Armed protesters descend on Michigan state Capitol in defiance of lockdown orders: Report

Liberals called them terrorists. President Donald Trump cheered them on.

A group of armed protesters stormed Michigan’s Capitol building on Thursday to demand an end to the state’s lockdown, the New York Post reported, frightening lawmakers and sparking a backlash from critics of President Trump, who they blamed for fomenting discord. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) extended the state’s state of emergency anyway, and her lockdown is in effect until May 15.

Protesters assemble at Michigan capital

Perhaps no governor has faced more publicized backlash than Whitmer, whose excessive coronavirus restrictions came to symbolize government overreach nationwide in April. Michigan has been a flashpoint for backlash, and Whitmer faced a large protest called “Operation Gridlock” in Lansing that saw thousands assemble at the Capitol last month, USA Today reported.

As Republicans tried to torpedo Whitmer’s state of emergency on Thursday, discontent with her decisions found a dramatic expression at the Capitol in Lansing. Hundreds of protesters, some armed, gathered outside the Capitol building to demand an end to the governor’s stay-at-home order, according to the Post.

At some point, protesters entered the Capitol and tried to enter the House floor, but were blocked by state police. According to one state senator, the protesters entered the Senate gallery and started shouting at the lawmakers, some of whom wore bulletproof vests.

“Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bulletproof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today,” state Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D) tweeted, according to the Post.

Critics labeled the protesters “terrorists” and blamed President Trump for encouraging the unrest. It is, however, legal to openly carry firearms in Michigan’s Capitol, NBC News notes.

Whitmer faces challenge from GOP

The dramatic scenes put a visceral edge to the powerful emotions boiling all over the country as debate continues to rage over when to end draconian lockdowns that have cost 30 million Americans their jobs, according to Business Insider. The protest was organized by Michigan United for Liberty to demand that businesses be allowed to open, NBC reported.

Liberals have heaped scorn on lockdown protesters, who appear to be largely supporters of Donald Trump. The president has meanwhile expressed sympathy for the demonstrators, tweeting vague messages in April calling to “LIBERATE” Michigan and other states, and on Friday he urged Whitmer to “make a deal” with them, The Hill noted.

“The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal,” Trump tweeted.

Whitmer extended her “stay at home order” to May 15 in April, with some lightened restrictions, according to NBC. Republican lawmakers, who control both chambers of the state legislature but lack large enough majorities to override a veto, voted Thursday to sue Whitmer and attempted to block her from unilaterally extending a state of emergency, but she went ahead and extended it until May 28, accusing Republicans of jeopardizing lives, Fox News reported.

“Republican lawmakers are putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk,” Whitmer said, according to Fox. “I’m not going to let that happen.”

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