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Armed Gunmen Enter Michigan Capitol Demanding End to COVID-19 Lockdown
Protesters try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber and are being kept out by the Michigan State Police after the American Patriot Rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty protest for the reopening of businesses on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on April 30, 2020.
The right-wing movement against public health measures designed to stave off the coronavirus pandemic escalated on Thursday as armed gunmen were among those who stormed the Michigan state house and tried to enter the legislative chamber.
The protesters entered the building after holding a small rally outside the State House in Lansing, calling for an end to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order in accordance with guidance from public health experts due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The so-called “American Patriot Rally” was organized by the recently-formed group Michigan United for Liberty and came two weeks after a similar protest dubbed “Operation Gridlock” created a traffic jam outside the government building.
Some demonstrators on Thursday wore “Make America Great Again” hats, while others carried firearms into the Capitol building. It is legal to carry a visible weapon in Michigan.
“You aren’t allowed to bring in posters to the Michigan State Capitol, but you can bring guns and rifles,” wrote progressive activist Linda Sarsour.
The protesters demanded to be let into the state House chamber, where the Republican-controlled legislature was debating an extension of Whitmer’s emergency order, which is due to expire at the end of the day Thursday. The lawmakers eventually adjourned without extending the order.
Democratic State Senator Dayna Polehanki posted photos of armed men with long guns in the public gallery above the floor:
A number of progressive advocates noted that racial and economic justice demonstrations have been met with force in recent years, while the crowd of largely white and pro-Trump protesters was permitted to force their way into the Capitol building with weapons.
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