armed protesters storm US state house, pushing for state closure to be lifted
Hundreds of protesters have stormed the State House in Michigan to denounce Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home order and business restrictions.
The demonstration began on Thursday morning on the lawn outside of the capitol, but protesters later “demanded” to be let inside the building.
According to reports, Gov. Whitmer was protected by state police officers who also blocked a group of armed men from moving further into the building.
Protesters stood shoulder-to-shoulder outside the House chambers while chanting, “Let us in.”
The Republican-led Michigan House refused to extend the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration and voted to authorise a lawsuit challenging Gov. Whitmer’s authority and actions to combat the pandemic.
Jason Howland, one of the organisers of the rally, told WLNS that the goal of the protest was “to get a ‘no’ vote on the extension of the emergency declaration from the senate, and beyond that, the goal is to continue pushing forward until we have our rights back.”
Local news reported that the state of emergency was set to expire April 30.
The governor had asked the legislature to extend it for 28 more days, but the Michigan House adjourned for the week on Thursday afternoon without extending the state of emergency, local media reported.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said in a statement on Wednesday that “the Governor’s Executive Order recognises that people are still allowed to exercise their First Amendment right to freedom of speech, and the City of Lansing understands the resources that are necessary to ensure a safe environment throughout the City during these protests”.
Michigan has the fourth largest number of COVID-19 cases in America and the third highest death toll, which is what prompted Gov. Whitmer to initially enact strict policies.
While some of those policies have been met with bipartisan approval, there has been considerable backlash to some of the strict social distancing measures, which include a ban on neighbours seeing each other, demanding stores to close sections “dedicated to carpeting, flooring, furniture, garden centres, plant nurseries, or paint”.
Still, calls to reopen the state are escalating as more than 20 million Americans have found themselves out of a job over the shutdown.
Michigan is among some of the nation’s worst hit states when it comes to coronavirus – along with New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
As of April 30, Michigan reported 41,379 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3789 deaths.
– with wires.