- Some 300 people gathered outside the Michigan Capitol to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s extended stay-at-home order.
- “This is the biggest infringement on our rights in our history,” one organiser told the crowd, the Guardian reported.
- A person in a giant Pikachu costume was among the armed protestors.
- Republican statehouse candidate James Chapman tied a naked doll in a noose to an American flag, leading to a scuffle when a woman tried to pry the doll away.
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Approximately 300 people congregated on the Capitol lawn in Lansing to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, the Detroit News reported, including a giant Pokemon and man swinging a brown-haired doll in a noose.
— Andy Morrison (@AndyMorrison_DN) May 14, 2020
Under heavy rain, the crowd listened to two hours of speeches organised by a group called Michigan United for Liberty.
“We are not going to be intimidated and we are not going to be silent,” Michigan United member Adam de Angeli told the crowd, the Guardian reported.
“This is the biggest infringement on our rights in our history,” De Angeli added. “This is devastating to our country and economy.”
Many carried signs calling on citizens to defend freedom. One poster featured Whitmer with a Hitler mustache, with the phrase “Tyranny has a face” written above it.
“What’s worse: Having a cough or having a tyrannical leader who takes your freedoms away?” a militia member carrying an assault rifle asked, the Guardian reported.
At one point, a scuffle broke out with a man carrying a naked doll hanging from a noose tied to an American flag. >
A woman attempted to grab the brown-haired doll, which may have been intended as an effigy of Whitmer, and other demonstrators swarmed in, MLive reported.
Michigan State Police surrounded the man, later identified as James Chapman, and escorted him into the Capitol.
Chapman, 60, is a Republican candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives and has multiple criminal convictions, including assault and stalking, according to MLive.
Police confiscated a small ax Chapman was carrying inside a plastic garbage can, but no arrests were made.
Many protesters came sporting assault riles and long guns in response to a proposed ban on weapons inside the Capitol following a group of armed civilians occupying the building in late April.
One of the most unusual attendees was a person in a large Pikachu costume, toting an AR-9 rifle.
The individual inside the bright yellow Pokemon character has not been identified.
UPDATE 2: pic.twitter.com/ER3UvCHOOd
— Craig Mauger (@CraigDMauger) May 14, 2020
The majority of demonstrators were not wearing masks or following social distancing practices, the Guardian reported. Violation of the stay-at-home order can lead to a fine of up to $US1,000, but no attendees were cited.
Whitmer had been a frequent target in private Facebook groups opposed to the shutdown, the Detroit Metro Times reported, with some users threatening violence.
“We need a good old fashioned lynch mob to storm the Capitol, drag her tyrannical arse out onto the street and string her up as our forefathers would have,” one member wrote.
For security reasons, the doors to the Capitol were closed and the legislative session cancelled during Thursday’s “Judgement Day” rally, which dispersed after several hours. A small group of counterprotesters was also on the scene.
Michigan’s stay-at-home order is set to expire on May 28. As of Friday, the state had 49,582 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 4,787 deaths.