Michigan’s governor has extended a state of emergency declaration including a stay-at-home order that will keep non-essential businesses closed until at least May 28 – despite armed protesters storming the capitol demanding an end to the shutdown.
Gretchen Whitmer rushed out three executive orders late Thursday just as her previous orders were set to expire, telling a virtual town hall that ‘we remain in a state of emergency’ while accusing Republican senators of ‘burying their heads in the sand and putting livelihoods at risk’ by opposing the moves.
Hours earlier, the House and Senate had voted to approve legislation that would allow them to sue Whitmer over her emergency declarations as armed protesters stormed the state capitol.
They also voted on another bill that would extend some of her emergency measures, but crucially not the stay-at-home order. Their bill would also allow restaurants, bars and gyms to reopen. Whitmer said she will not sign it.
Amid the chaos Democrat Senator Sylvia Santana was pictured wearing a bulletproof vest and surgical mask while at her desk, as colleague Dayna Polehanki tweeted an image of rifle-wielding men on a balcony above her.
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Michgan’s governor issued three new executive orders Thursday extending a state of emergency and stay-at-home order until at least May 28, despite armed protesters storming the capitol as Senator Sylvia Santana was pictured wearing a bulletproof vest while sitting at her desk
Protesters were demanding an end to the state’s stay-at-home order which has barred bars, gyms, casinos and cinemas from opening while limiting services at restaurants to takeout and delivery only (pictured, armed demonstrators inside the capitol)
Rifle-wielding protesters pictured inside Michigan’s capitol building demanding and end to the shut-down – hours before the state’s Democrat governor issued three new orders extending it
A protester is seen yelling at Michigan State Police while holding a gun after storming the Capitol Thursday afternoon
Armed men are seen inside the Michigan State Capitol after they stormed inside during a rally on Thursday
Protesters tried to enter the Michigan House of Representatives chamber and were being kept out by the Michigan State Police during the American Patriot Rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty
Demonstrators were seen arguing with officers from the Michigan State Police as they tried to enter the capitol building
Protesters tried to enter the Michigan House of Representatives chamber but were being kept out by the Michigan State Police
Trump supporters wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats are seen crowding inside the state Capitol building
People protest against the governor’s coronavirus lockdown inside the Capitol on Thursday
One protester wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat is seen selling at officers inside the Capitol building
Matt Maddock a Republican member of the Michigan House of Representatives, speaks with protesters inside the Capitol
Whitmer said that 700 people in Michigan had died from coronavirus in the last 72 hours, and accused Republicans of ‘burying their heads in the sand’ by opposing stay-at-home orders (file image)
Whitmer’s three new executive orders cancelled her previous orders, asserted that Michigan remains in a state of emergency, and then extended her emergency powers until at least May 28.
With lawmakers passing a bill that allows them to sue Whitmer – which she is unable to veto – the issue looks destined to end up in court, though no lawsuit had been filed late Thursday, M-Live reported.
The governor is claiming authority to rule by executive order under two pieces of legislation – the 1976 Emergency Management Act and a similar 1945 law that allows a governor to declare a state of emergency and assume emergency powers.
Arguments center around the fact that the 1976 law says governors must go to the Legislature if they want to extend the state of emergency past 28 days. The 1945 act says governors decide when the emergency is over.
Whitmer’s extended order bans gyms, theaters, bars and casinos from opening, and also limits restaurants to carry-out and delivery orders only.
Restaurants and allow up to five people inside at a time to pick up orders, but only if they follow social distancing guidelines by staying six feet apart.
The restrictions do not apply to office buildings, grocery stores, markets, food pantries, pharmacies, drug stores, medical equipment/supplies providers, health care facilities, residential care facilities, juvenile justice facilities, warehouse and distribution centers, or industrial and manufacturing sites
‘Although we are beginning to see the curve flatten, we are not out of the woods yet. We must all continue to be diligent, observe social distancing and limit in-person interactions and services to slow the spread of COVID-19,’ she said as the order was issued.
‘Michigan now has more than 40,000 cases of COVID-19. The virus has killed more Michiganders than we lost during the Vietnam war. Extending this order is vital to the health and safety of every Michigander.
‘If we work together and do our part, we can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.’
Earlier in the day, hundreds of protesters – some carrying rifles – descended on the state capitol to oppose the shutdown, many of whom were waving pro-Trump banners after the President had earlier tweeted to ‘LIBERATE MICHIGAN’. He posted similar tweets about Virginia and Minnesota.
Most of them appeared to be ignoring state social-distancing guidelines as they clustered together within six feet of each other. Few people wore masks.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at Michigan’s state Capitol in Lansing on Thursday to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s request to extend the state of emergency to combat COVID-19
Protesters rally outside of the state capitol building before the vote on the extension of Whitmer’s emergency stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus outbreak
Armed protesters provide security as demonstrators take part in an ‘American Patriot Rally’, organized by Michigan United for Liberty
A protester wears an upside down flag painted on her face as she stands at an American Patriot Rally on Thursday
One demonstrator held a sign that has Gov Whitmer depicted as Adolph Hitler during the rally on Thursday
Ryan Kelley, a protest organizer for the American Patriot Rally, is seen speaking to attendees on Thursday
A woman wearing a Trump 2020 hat is seen holding a sign that reads: ‘Every job is essential. Get workers back to work safely now’
Demonstrators hold a banner with the word ‘freedom’ during Thursday’s protest against the governor’s stay-at-home directive
In the United States, more than 1 million people have been infected with the virus. The death toll increases each day and as of Thursday afternoon it surpassed 62,000. In Michigan, more than 3,600 people have died from the virus and more than 40,000 people have contracted the illness.
But nonetheless protests to open governments have erupted across the United States, with Thursday’s rally occurring just a day after a Michigan judge sided with Whitmer in a lawsuit filed by plaintiffs who claimed her stay-at-home order violated their constitutional rights.
Court of Claims Judge Christopher M. Murray disagreed, saying that the plaintiffs’ arguments were not strong due to the severity of the pandemic.
Murray wrote in the court order: ‘Although the Court is painfully aware of the difficulties of living under the restrictions of these executive orders, those difficulties are temporary, while to those who contract the virus and cannot recover (and to their family members and friends), it is all too permanent.’
During Thursday’s protest, Mike Detmer, a Republican US congressional candidate running for the state’s 8th district spot held by Democrat Elissa Slotkin, told the crowd: ‘Governor Whitmer, and our state legislature, it’s over with. Open this state.
‘Let’s get businesses back open again. Let’s make sure there are jobs to go back to.’
Other speakers at the rally questioned the deadliness of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
They also said Whitmer’s stay-at-home order violated constitutional rights, and urged people to open their businesses on May 1 in disregard of her order.
Thursday’s rally began around 9am under steady rainfall with some protesters chanting ‘USA’ and ‘lock her up,’ referring to Whitmer, but alluding to a refrain often chanted at 2016 Trump rallies directed at Hillary Clinton.
Hoisting American flags and handmade signs, protesters denounced Whitmer’s stay-home order and business restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic while lawmakers met to consider extending her emergency declaration hours before it expires
Protesters hold Trump 2020 banners during the rally at the State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on Thursday
Armed protesters provide security as demonstrators take part in an ‘American Patriot Rally,’ organized on Thursday
One woman held a sign that called the coronavirus a ‘hoax’ despite the deaths of more than 62,000 people across the US, with at least 3,670 of those in Michigan
Another protester held a sign with a heart in front of Trump’s name during the rally outside of Michigan’s State Capitol
Demonstrators were clearly violating the recommended six-feet apart social distancing order as they protested on Thursday
A man is seen holding an American flag with a sign that reads: ‘I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees’
A woman is seen holding a sign demanding the governor ‘unlock us now’ during Thursday’s rally
State authorities have warned that protesters could be ticketed for violating social-distancing rules.
Judge: Stay-at-home order does NOT infringe on constitutional rights
Michigan’s stay-at-home order imposed during the coronavirus outbreak does not infringe on constitutional rights, according to a judge’s ruling that threw out a lawsuit filed against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Court of Claims Judge Christopher M. Murray denied granting an injunction of the governor’s March 24th order requested in the lawsuit filed by five state residents.
Judge Murray, however, said the residents’ claims that the order infringed on their constitutional rights were not strong enough due to the severity of the pandemic.
Reversing the order ‘would not serve the public interest, despite the temporary harm to plaintiffs’ constitutional rights,’ wrote the judge in the court ruling.
The mayor of Lansing, Andy Schor, said in a statement on Wednesday that he was ‘disappointed’ protesters would put themselves and others at risk, but recognized that Whitmer’s order still allowed people to ‘exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of speech’.
Whitmer has acknowledged that her order was the strictest in the country.
Protesters, many from more rural, Trump-leaning parts of Michigan, have argued it has crippled the economy statewide even as the majority of deaths from the virus are centered on the southeastern Detroit metro area.
Organizers of a mid-April protest in Michigan took credit when Whitmer recently rolled back some of the most controversial elements of her order, such as bans on people traveling to their other properties.
Whitmer’s stay-at-home order is set to continue through May 15, though she has said she could loosen restrictions as health experts determine new cases of COVID-19 are being successfully controlled.
On Wednesday, she said the construction industry could get back to work starting May 7.
The rally saw attendees bring their children who also held signs in protest of the stay-at-home order
Some people held American flags while others wrapped themselves with Trump 2020 banners
Some people used their trucks and boats (pictured) to display demands during the rally on Thursday
‘Set us free from tyranny,’ one protester’s display read as demonstrators chanted during the rally
A woman wore a mask that reads: ‘Whitmer lied and people died.’ She was one of very few people wearing protective gear on Thursday
There was at least one counter-protester near the rally on Thursday who held a sign that reads: ‘Go home! Covidiots!’
Thursday’s protest appeared to be the largest in the state since April 15, when supporters and allies of President Donald Trump organized thousands of people for ‘Operation Gridlock,’ jamming the streets of Lansing with their cars to call out what they said was the overreach of Whitmer’s strict stay-at-home order.
That was one of the country’s first major anti-lockdown rallies, and helped sparked a wave of similar events nationwide.
The slow reopening of state economies around the country has taken on political overtones, as Republican politicians and individuals affiliated with Trump’s re-election promoted protests in electoral battleground states, such as Michigan.
Many states, including Georgia, Oklahoma, Alaska, South Carolina and Ohio, have already moved to restart parts of their economies following weeks of mandatory lockdowns that have thrown nearly one in six American workers out of their jobs.
Public health authorities warn that increasing human interactions now without appropriate safety measures may spark a fresh surge of infections.
Regardless of the warning, people have taken to the streets to demonstrate against lockdown orders.
There are more than 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States with at least 62,547 deaths
Earlier this week, hundreds of lockdown rebels attended the ‘Reopen North Carolina’ rally despite the group’s leader, Audrey Whitlock, testing positive for the coronavirus.
The group, which has been campaigning for government officials to reopen the state and relax coronavirus restrictions, were seen gathered outside the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh.
Many waved American flags while others held signs that read: ‘Set our people free.’
Hardly any of the protesters were wearing masks or other protective gear as they clearly violated the social distancing order to remain six feet apart.
The demonstrators called on Gov Roy Cooper to ease the stay-at-home orders for the state where there are more than 9,900 confirmed cases and 354 deaths.
ReOpen NC is promising to hold rallies in Raleigh every Tuesday until the governor’s restrictions are lifted. His stay-at-home order has been extended until May 8.