A wild, tempestuous protest in Lansing brought rifles, stormed the capitol, threatened Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and got exactly what they asked for from the Republican-controlled Michigan House.
LANSING, MI — Not only has the Republican-controlled House of Representatives refused to extend the state of emergency caused by the pandemic coronavirus, it has voted to sue Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over her handling of the crisis.
This action comes as hundreds of protesters with Trump banners, assault weapons and dressed more in rain gear than in pandemic personal protective equipment took to the lawn of the Capitol Building to demand an end to the protections designed to slow the spread of the virus.
One protest placard even threatened to hang Whitmer.
Protesters stormed the building, demanding to be let into the House chamber during the vote, which was sealed to allow legislators the ability to practice social distancing while voting. Protesters shouted “let us in” and had to be held back by sergeants in face masks. The protesters were forcibly removed by police.
The event, which The ‘Gander notes had been called “Rally on the State Capitol Lawn” had some attendees concerned that radical political rhetoric, assault weapons and Trump messaging would diminish their impact. Those concerns did not seem to tamp down the display at the rebranded “American Patriot Rally”, reported Reuters.
As before, repeats of the famous Trump campaign chant “lock her up” were directed at Whitmer,
The total mayhem that was the “American Patriot Rally” was not unexpected. In fact, the Independent reports, some members of the Legislature wore bulletproof vests.
The Protesters Got What They Wanted
Amid the hurricane of chaos and turmoil in the capitol, the Michigan House, under the guidance of its speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), was busy.
In addition to their lawsuit, the House voted on a slate of laws that would dramatically change the powers of the governor in crisis, and specifically end certain executive orders in place as part of the coronavirus response, reports WJRT.
Chatfield said his legislative package replaced nearly every Whitmer executive order.
“The current status quo relies on one-size-fits-all edicts that unfairly punish millions of people across the state without giving them any recourse or voice in the process,” Chatfield said. “The people deserve a better solution, and we can provide it.”
Chatifeld was not entirely correct in that assessment. As The ‘Gander reported, Whitmer’s plan, MI Safe Start, independently assessed nine different categories of businesses in eight geographic regions called “laborsheds”, and partially restored some sectors based on workplace pandemic best practices.
It is extremely unlikely that Chatfield’s “repeal and replace” approach to Whitmer’s coronavirus response will be signed by the governor, but as Whitmer noted the end to the emergency declaration does have effects. She argued that it wouldn’t take away her authority to act, but it would fail to extend liability protections for public health workers.
The New Dangers of a Second Wave
Investment bank Raymond James noted that Michigan is one of only two states that meet none of the criteria to re-engage economies set forth by the White House. The other is New Jersey. But protesters had little concern about that.
“The virus is here. It’s going to be here. … It’s time to let people go back to work. That’s all there is to it,” said Joni George, of Flushing.
That attitude would absolutely risk lives..Public health experts and frontline doctors both have warned that doing that would almost certainly cause a resurgence of the disease and contribute to thousands more deaths nationwide.
Rural ER Dr. Rob Davidson was concerned that the likely resurgence would overtax his hospital.
“My concern is that we open up before we do adequate testing to know the true numbers, and if certain at risk populations get exposed, we could very quickly become overwhelmed,” he told The ‘Gander. “We are a resource limited critical access hospital.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the top coronavirus experts, cautioned that states like Michigan need a slow, rolling plan to re-engage and not a dramatic shift like those advanced by protesters and legislators, reports the Chicago Tribune.
“”You can’t just leap over things and get into a situation where you’re really tempting a rebound,” Fauci told NBC. “That’s the thing I get concerned about.”
Political pressure from President Trump and fringe conservatives has been high to leap back to full economic engagement as quickly as possible, but as The ‘Gander reported a large majority of Americans, including Republicans, support caution to prevent a second wave of the pandemic.
As of Thursday, The ‘Gander reports, 41,379 Michiganders have tested positive and 3,789 are dead. More than 1,000 deaths have hit Detroit alone.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.