The Michigan state legislature called off meetings scheduled to take place on Thursday as demonstrations were set to take place against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.
According to state police, 200 individuals took part in a demonstration near the capitol building in Lansing against Whitmer’s social distancing measures, which were put in place in order to stem the spread of coronavirus across Michigan. A number of the protesters were armed.
The building itself was closed due to the legislature not being in session at the time, and because coronavirus protocols dictate that the building should be closed when business isn’t being conducted. Members of the State Senate voted on Wednesday to adjourn until the following Tuesday, even though there had been plans for a meeting to take place on Thursday of this week.
Lawmakers were reportedly fearful that the protest could lead to a confrontation similar to that seen in April, when demonstrators barged their way into the capitol building, demanding to be allowed into legislative chambers during active sessions. Many of those protesters, too, were seen holding assault rifles, with a number of social media posts showing members screaming at law enforcement in the building.
Those fears were prompted by several social media postings in private Facebook groups that have become public. In the group “Michigan United for Liberty,” for example, which organized the protest this week, many members had advocated killing Whitmer over her stay-at-home order. (The page was later removed from Facebook for violating the site’s terms of service.)
Members of other inflammatory and hate-filled groups based in Michigan have also advocated for violence against the governor.
“We need a good old fashioned lynch mob to storm the Capitol, drag her tyrannical ass out onto the street and string her up as our forefathers would have,” one member of the group “People of Michigan vs. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer” wrote online.
“Either President Trump sends in the troops or there is going to be a midnight lynching in Lansing soon,” another user said in the same group.
One member of the protest, James Chapman, carried an American flag and a nude doll with a noose around its neck attached to a fishing rod. Chapman, a Republican running for one of Michigan’s 110 state representative seats, told media at the event that the hanged doll was meant to represent Governor Whitmer.