After a group of Michiganders fueled by violent tactics threatened lawmakers’ safety, Black citizens stepped in to protect.
LANSING — When armed protests formed on the lawn of Michigan’s capitol building, State Representative Sarah Anthony and other state lawmakers found themselves walking through throngs of armed, angry Michiganders to get to work.
“We were all just appalled by the lack of support and lack of security that I had, that other legislators had, and the fact that a lot of the demonstrators last week were adorning many racist, anti-Semitic signage. I think it just triggered a lot of folks, especially African Americans,” Anthony said after the initial protests.
Then, some of our neighbors gathered to protest again. This time some legislators wore bulletproof vests, according to State Rep. Dayna Polehandski.
Michael Lynn Jr., a firefighter with the Lansing Fire Department, says he saw video footage on Anthony’s Facebook page that made him want to take action.
“I could hear the fear in her voice during that protest,” Lynn told The Root. “It was the visual of her being that scared to go to work. It meant we had to do something. We came out here today to make sure we could provide some protection, even if it’s only just to make her feel better.”
Lynn reached out to the Representative’s office and offered her an armed escort to the Capitol Building. He and five other volunteers took their cues from the protestors of Gov. Whitmer’s shelter in place order. They each donned masks, bulletproof vests and automatic rifles to walk the lawmaker from her car into the Capitol Building on Friday.
Fighting for equality is no new task for Lynn. He notably criticized Lansing’s mayor for not encouraging racial diversity and brought a discrimination lawsuit against the city, according to a report from The Lansing State Journal. Lynn was suspended for filing the suit; an action the mayor later reversed.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel began considering a gun ban in the Capitol Building in the wake of the armed protests. She penned a letter to the State Capitol Commission informing them of her power to ban guns in the building without a vote from the legislature.
Tensions have been high in Michigan and around the country since President Donald Trump began making public declarations that citizens should “liberate themselves.” The rhetoric has led to armed protests in other states, including the arrest of one Colorado protest organizer who was found with pipe bombs in his possession.
The State Capitol Commission’s next meeting begins Monday at 11 a.m. The first of only two agenda items is to address the proposed ban on guns.