State governments have been issuing stay-at-home orders across the country, with each order varying in intensity and longevity. One state’s order in particular has proven to be the most controversial thus far: Thousands of Michigan residents protested outside of the state’s capital this week to rally against Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order.
As of this week, there are 27,000 COVID-19 cases and over 1,700 deaths in Michigan. Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, which will be in effect until April 30, mandates that all Michigan businesses and operations must temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life, and all Michiganders must stay in their homes unless they are part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store. Under the order, residents may not participate in any public or private gatherings of any number of people outside the people they live with, visit someone in the hospital, nursing home or other residential care facilities, or go to the mall or to dine-in restaurants. Additionally, travel between two residences within the state is not permitted.
Michigan Conservative Coalition, the group that organized this week’s protest in Lansing, dubbed the protest “Operation Gridlock,” and intentionally caused a massive traffic jam right next to the state’s capitol building. “Quarantine is when you restrict movement of sick people. Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people,” Meshawn Maddock, one of the group’s chief organizers, said. “Every person has learned a harsh lesson about social distancing. We don’t need a nanny state to tell people how to be careful.” Despite Maddock’s comment, the majority of the protesters were not wearing masks or maintaining the recommended six foot distance from one another. In addition to the protests this week, the state was slapped with two federal lawsuits accusing the state of violating constitutional rights. “We believe it is over-broad and over-reaching. There is a way to do it appropriately without infringing on Constitutional rights like the governor has,” David Helm, one of the attorneys representing the people of Michigan, told local media outlets. It is the restriction on travel between residences in particular that has ignited the ire of residents.
While Michigan’s protest was the loudest, it was far from the only one. About 100 protesters demanded Democratic Governor Andy Beshear reopen Kentucky and disrupted his televised Wednesday afternoon pandemic update by chanting, blowing horns and shouting into a megaphone outside the window of the briefing room. A similar event transpired in Ohio, where roughly 100 protesters disrupted Republican Governor Mike Dewine’s televised appearance on Monday. Protests occurred in Utah and North Carolina as well, with one planned in Virginia at the end of the week.