Armed Protesters Stormed the Michigan Statehouse This Afternoon

A group of protesters on the steps of the Michigan state Capital on April 15, 2020.Daniel Mears/TNS via ZUMA

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As local lawmakers in Michigan gathered at the state Capitol building in Lansing on Thursday, they were met by hundreds of demonstrators—many carrying firearms—who forced their way into the statehouse in heated protest of the state’s stay-at-home orders. Since March 24, Michigan, like most other states around the country, has been under a strict stay-at-home order, imposed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. But many Michigan residents are demanding Whitmer reopen the state, echoing President Donald Trump’s push to reopen the country and restart the economy—even if costs lives. 

This chaotic scene comes on the heels of several similar ones earlier this month in Michigan, followed by more in state capitols all over the country: Angry protesters—many donning pro-Trump gear, MAGA hats, and Confederate flags—demanding that their governors reopen their states. (It’s important to note that while the president has tweeted his support for these protests, the actual number of people showing up to these demonstrations in violation of states’ stay-at-home orders seems to be only a vocal minority.)

Thursday’s protest in Lansing, called the “American Patriot Rally,” was organized by the group Michigan United for Liberty to call for businesses to be reopened, NBC News reports. The group also organized the first protest in Michigan, on April 7,  and has since unsuccessfully sued Whitmer to reopen the state. But this demonstration, unlike previous ones in the state and elsewhere, escalated to an unprecedented point of tension, with protesters forcing their way into the Capitol building after hours protesting outside in the rain. Videos from the scene show the demonstrators gathered outside the legislative chambers, blocked by police officers, chanting “Let us in!” and “You cannot lock us out!”

The state’s legislature assembled on Thursday to debate an extension of Whitmer’s coronavirus emergency response orders, which mandated a suspension on all activities “not necessary to sustain or protect life.” Michigan has been particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus; as of publication, it had over 41,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,700 deaths as a result of the disease. Over the past few weeks, Democratic governors have been one of Trump’s favorite targets in shifting blame for the economic fallout of the pandemic, with Whitmer bearing the brunt of his tantrums. His tirades against Whitmer have only fanned the flames of the ongoing protests there. According to one Michigan state senator, some local lawmakers even wore bullet proof vests to the legislative session:

Currently, Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders are in place until May 15, though earlier this week she announced a phased plan to reopen the state, beginning with allowing constructions workers to go back to work in the next week or two. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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