Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer slams ‘outrageous’ Capitol protesters

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has decried protests staged inside the state’s Capitol building last week – which featured demonstrators with assault weapons, swastikas and Confederate flags – saying the event acted as a reminder of some of the most ‘awful’ parts of US history.

‘Some of the outrageousness of what happened at our capitol depicted some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history in this country,’ Whitmer said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.

‘The Confederate Flags, and nooses, the swastikas, the behavior that you have seen in all of the clips is not representative of who we are in Michigan,’ she continued.

The ‘American Patriot Rally’, organized by Michigan United for Liberty, was staged Thursday in contempt for Whitmer’s statewide stay-at-home orders put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has decried protests staged inside the state¿s Capitol building last week - which featured demonstrators with assault weapons, swastikas and Confederate flags - saying the event acted as a reminder of the most ¿awful¿ parts of US history

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has decried protests staged inside the state’s Capitol building last week – which featured demonstrators with assault weapons, swastikas and Confederate flags – saying the event acted as a reminder of the most ‘awful’ parts of US history

The 'American Patriot Rally', organized by Michigan United for Liberty, was staged Thursday in contempt for Whitmer¿s statewide stay-at-home orders put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus

The ‘American Patriot Rally’, organized by Michigan United for Liberty, was staged Thursday in contempt for Whitmer’s statewide stay-at-home orders put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus

Protesters were demanding an end to the state's stay-at-home order which has barred bars, gyms, casinos and cinemas from opening while limiting services at restaurants to takeout and delivery only (pictured, armed demonstrators inside the capitol)

Protesters were demanding an end to the state’s stay-at-home order which has barred bars, gyms, casinos and cinemas from opening while limiting services at restaurants to takeout and delivery only (pictured, armed demonstrators inside the capitol) 

Rifle-wielding protesters pictured inside Michigan's capitol building demanding and end to the shut-down - hours before the state's Democrat governor issued three new orders extending it

Rifle-wielding protesters pictured inside Michigan’s capitol building demanding and end to the shut-down – hours before the state’s Democrat governor issued three new orders extending it 

Hundreds of protesters – waving pro-Trump banners and carrying assault rifles – descended on the state capitol to oppose the shutdown, after Whitmer attempted to extend the lockdown to May 28.

Most of them appeared to be ignoring state social-distancing guidelines as they clustered together within six feet of each other. Few people wore masks.

Photos from inside the Michigan House Chamber showed elected officials wearing bulletproof vests while men holding guns stood above them. Others were heard chanting: ‘Let us in! Let us in!’ from outside.

President Donald Trump later urged Gov. Whitmer to ‘give a little’ to the armed anti-lockdown protesters. 

‘The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire,’ Trump wrote. ‘These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal,’ Trump tweeted Friday morning.

The protests came as the second time in as many weeks that conservative state demonstrators have stormed the Capitol.

Despite the fallout, Whitmer doubled down on her stay-at-home orders – which include some of the most strict measures in the nation – and downplayed any unrest, calling the demonstrators a ‘small group’ and praising the vast majority of residents for ‘doing the right thing’ by staying at home.

Hundreds of protesters - many waving pro-Trump banners while others carried assault rifles - descended on the state capitol to oppose the shutdown, which is currently in place till May 15

Hundreds of protesters – many waving pro-Trump banners while others carried assault rifles – descended on the state capitol to oppose the shutdown, which is currently in place till May 15

Protestor with a sign that has Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whittmer depicted as Adolph Hitler is seen at an American Patriot Rally

Protestor with a sign that has Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whittmer depicted as Adolph Hitler is seen at an American Patriot Rally

Michgan's governor issued three new executive orders Thursday extending a state of emergency and stay-at-home order until at least May 28, despite armed protesters storming the capitol as Senator Sylvia Santana was pictured wearing a bulletproof vest while sitting at her desk

Michgan’s governor issued three new executive orders Thursday extending a state of emergency and stay-at-home order until at least May 28, despite armed protesters storming the capitol as Senator Sylvia Santana was pictured wearing a bulletproof vest while sitting at her desk

Demonstrators were seen arguing with officers from the Michigan State Police as they tried to enter the capitol building

Demonstrators were seen arguing with officers from the Michigan State Police as they tried to enter the capitol building  

The democratic governor reiterated several times to CNN the importance of heeding experts and epidemiologists’ advice to guide her state’s response to the on-going novel coronavirus pandemic, rather than partisan rhetoric.

‘When you think about the fact that this is a state of almost 10 million people, the vast majority are doing the right thing,’ Whitmer said, crediting the effort as the reason the curve in the spread of the coronavirus has continued to flatten in Michigan.

‘We’ve saved lives in the process. We have to keep listening to the epidemiologists and experts and not listen to the partisan rhetoric, or these political rallies or tweets, for that matter. We have to keep doing the right thing.’

The United States recorded its deadliest 24 hours on Thursday, the day of the protest, after more than 2,900 people died from coronavirus.

So far, that number is the highest daily COVID-19 death toll that the US has seen since the pandemic hit America.

Michigan, meanwhile, has the highest coronavirus fatality rate in the United States at 9.3 percent, as deaths increased by 232 across Saturday, bringing state-wide deaths up to 4,021.

‘Whether you agree with me or not, I’m working to protect your life if you live in the state of Michigan,’ Whitmer continued. ‘We’re going to listen to facts and science because we’ve got to get this right.’

Whitmer also added her support to Biden Sunday, arguing not ‘every claim is equal’ in relation to accusations the presumptive Democratic nominee sexually assaulted former Senate staffer Tara Reade in 1993. She told CNN: ‘We need to give people an opportunity to tell their story. But then we have a duty to vet it. And just because you’re a survivor doesn’t mean that every claim is equal.’ 

Whitmer continued: ‘I have read a lot about this current allegation. I know Joe Biden, and I have watched his defense. And there’s not a pattern that goes into this. 

‘And I think that, for these reasons, I’m very comfortable that Joe Biden is who he says he is…. And I will tell you this. I don’t believe that it’s consistent with the Joe Biden that I know. And I do believe Joe, and I support Joe Biden.’  

Whitmer has extended a state of emergency declaration including a stay-at-home order that will keep non-essential businesses in the state closed until at least May 28 – despite the armed protests.

She rushed out three executive orders late Thursday just as her previous orders were set to expire, telling a virtual town hall that ‘we remain in a state of emergency’ while accusing Republican senators of ‘burying their heads in the sand and putting livelihoods at risk’ by opposing the moves. 

Hours earlier, the House and Senate had voted to approve legislation that would allow them to sue Whitmer over her emergency declarations as armed protesters stormed the state capitol. 

They also voted on another bill that would extend some of her emergency measures, but crucially not the stay-at-home order. Their bill would also allow restaurants, bars and gyms to reopen. Whitmer said she will not sign it. 

Protesters tried to enter the Michigan House of Representatives chamber but were being kept out by the Michigan State Police

Protesters tried to enter the Michigan House of Representatives chamber but were being kept out by the Michigan State Police

People protest against the governor's coronavirus lockdown inside the Capitol on Thursday

People protest against the governor’s coronavirus lockdown inside the Capitol on Thursday

One protester wearing a 'Make America Great Again' hat is seen selling at officers inside the Capitol building

One protester wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat is seen selling at officers inside the Capitol building 

Protesters tried to enter the Michigan House of Representatives chamber and were being kept out by the Michigan State Police during the American Patriot Rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty

Protesters tried to enter the Michigan House of Representatives chamber and were being kept out by the Michigan State Police during the American Patriot Rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty

Armed men are seen inside the Michigan State Capitol after they stormed inside during a rally on Thursday

Armed men are seen inside the Michigan State Capitol after they stormed inside during a rally on Thursday 



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