Trump Supporters Are Staging Armed Protests to Stick It to Coronavirus - 2020-04-16
In the capital cities of Michigan, Kentucky, and North Carolina, hundreds of conservatives staged mass protests on Wednesday against social distancing orders—and top right-wing media figures are cheering them on. Despite coronavirus causing over 30,000 deaths in America alone, the pro-Trump and largely mask-less protesters, some of whom flew Confederate flags and open-carried AR-15 and AK-47 variants, gathered to demand an end to outbreak-reduction efforts and a premature return to normalcy.
The largest protest was staged in Michigan, where conservatives formed a tight-knit crowd around the steps of the Lansing capitol building and blocked off surrounding streets in the self-titled "Operation Gridlock" effort. The protesters' ire was aimed at Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer, who, while facing the third-worst outbreak in the U.S., extended Michigan's stay-at-home order last week to April 30, banning gatherings of 10 or more people and the reopening of nonessential businesses and schools. She issued the executive action after over 20,000 Michiganders had become infected with COVID-19 and nearly 1,000 had died, leading to capacity issues at Detroit-area hospitals.
Her most radical GOP constituents have called the order tyrannical, as they made evident by blaring car horns, waving signs that likened Whitmer to Hitler—including one that read, "Trump, lock up the Nazi woman from Michigan"—and chanting, "Lock her up!" and "We will not comply!" on the capitol front lawn. The protest was organized by the Michigan Freedom Fund and Michigan Conservative Coalition, the former of which is backed by the billionaire family of Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's education secretary. MLive reporter Malachi Barrett highlighted the president's influence on the rallygoers, calling it "half protest, half Trump rally," an unsurprising connection given that Trump has recently upped demands for "OPENING UP AMERICA AGAIN!"