Good luck getting the image of Pikachu with an assault rifle out of your head, ever.
A number of factors including poor weather, promises to arrest protesters who got out of line and the Capitol Building being closed likely contributed to the lower turnout of Thursday’s protest, which only drew a few hundred people. But those people were memorable, for all the wrong reasons.
One protester was the iconic video game mascot, Pikachu, armed with an assault weapon. Pikachu’s game franchise, Pokemon, very notably does not involve the electric rodent carrying a semiautomatic rifle.
Pikachu wasn’t the only armed protester. Several other protesters showed in the more traditional paramilitary attire that has become standard at these demonstrations.
State officials were on heightened alert with this small but demanding group of Michiganders after Gov. Whitmer became the target of several personal death threats.
In a wildly unsuccessful effort to still communicate in a manner that looked intimidating without getting arrested, the Lansing State Journal photographed multiple protesters using toy guns instead of actual firearms in hostile-looking poses. These displays ranged from the truly absurd to protesters that could almost fit in with the paramilitary appearance of others.
Those paramilitary protesters were ultimately all dressed up with nowhere to go. Fearing a repeat of the April 30 protests where the American Patriot Rally stormed the Capitol Building with firearms and demanded access to legislators in the State House while standing, armed, in the gallery above the State Senate, Bloomberg reports the building was closed and the legislature did not meet Thursday.
A man identified to MLive as Canton-area Republican State Representative candidate James Chapman attended the protest. Before his attempt to enter the political arena, Chapman’s history includes a ten-year prison sentence for assault with intent to commit great bodily harm in 1990 and six months in jail in 2018 for resisting a police officer. The 2018 incident, summarized in court proceedings, involved him jumping into Belleville Lake to evade police after an argument with an acquaintance led Chapman to attempt to stab said acquaintance.
Chapman did not get arrested Thursday, but he did have police break up a physical altercation he got into with another protester.
Chapman had a disturbing protest display with him—an American flag from which a stripped naked child’s doll with a passing resemblance to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hung by a noose.
Other protesters got into a physical altercation with Chapman, attempting to take his flag-and-noose display away from him. WLNS reports one person involved in that altercation was wielding an axe.
“I took his flag away ‘cause that’s not what it stands for,” one woman involved in the fight told reporters. “Hate crimes are not tolerated in Michigan. End of story. Just so you guys know, I’ll fight that. Physically if I have to.”
That wasn’t the only confrontation between the right-wing protesters, WLNS also reported on protesters arguing over the place of guns at the protests.
There were counterprotesters present as well, supporting the stay-at-home orders that Judgement Day ostensibly was there to oppose. The counterprotesters were calm and silent as the bizarre maelstrom Some did speak to reporters, and one hinted at the way the very Trump-focused demonstration was a vocal minority creating the illusion of public sentiment.
“I am supporting my governor,” one man told WLNS. “I don’t care. I am the majority but that doesn’t matter. Because you’ve got to remember, Trump is a voodoo President.”
So far, protests have happened in Lansing every two weeks, usually on Thursdays. If this trend continues the next will be held May 28.