Michigan Braced for Lockdown Protest As Facebook Removes Groups Encouraging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's Assassination

Protesters are set to stage another anti-lockdown demonstration on the steps of Michigan's state capitol building, just days after social media posts promoting violence against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were uncovered.

The rally, organized by the group Michigan United for Liberty, is set to take place on May 14 at the Capitol building in Lansing.

"The legislators continue to play scheduling games with us, so we will be there whether they are or not, in large numbers," Michigan United for Liberty said.

"We will gather to raise awareness of the many hypocrisies of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and to give a voice to the voiceless."

The demonstration is one of a number of protests voicing opposition to Whitmer's stay-at-home orders, which she has implemented to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

At a previous rally on April 30, right-wing militia groups entered the Capitol building armed with assault rifles while lawmakers debated whether the state of emergency should be extended.

Michigan lawmakers and officials have now expressed concerns that these rallies could descend into violence after it was revealed several Facebook groups have been removed for discussing killing Whitmer.

"We haven't had any bloodshed yet, but the populous is counting to three, and the other day was two," one member wrote in the Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine group. "Next comes watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants."

In a group called People of Michigan vs. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, one man wrote: "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."

Another male added: "Can we please just take up a collection for an assassin to put that woman from Michigan down." One other also asked: "Wonder how long till she's hit with a shotgun blast."

The Michigan United for Liberty Facebook group was also removed in the wake of the article by The Detroit Metro Times.

Adam De Angeli, spokesperson for Michigan United for Liberty, distanced themselves from anyone who may have discussed harming or even killing Whitmer in the Facebook group.

"We have never encouraged violence in any way, shape or form," De Angeli told MLive. "We've only encouraged peaceful protest. We haven't even encouraged firearms, though it's not illegal to have them."

Whitmer called on Republican leaders to denounce the rhetoric expressed in the Facebook groups ahead of the upcoming protest.

"I'm increasingly concerned about the violent nature of their extreme comments that are being made around these organizations and groups that are coming together the violent racist extreme rhetoric that has already been connected to Thursday's rally," Whitmer said in a statement.

Last month's images of armed protesters inside the Capitol prompted Michigan lawmakers to demand that the State Capitol Commission change the law to ban the carrying of guns inside the building.

Speaking at a Michigan Senate session on Tuesday, Senator Mallory McMorrow said action must be taken against before it is too late.

"I want to remind people that it only takes one person to change everything forever," McMorrow said.

"In 2007, my friend and classmate walked into class at Virginia Tech and never came back. These words and these actions matter.

"As I read some of the words that were published this week, it's not about staying at home. It's not about maybe losing your business, and there were very rightful fears and concerns, it's about spreading blood on the front lawn of this building."

She added: "I would be lying if I said that sitting in my chair with four men and rifles behind me, didn't make me think that I was going to be joining my friend very soon.

"We're supposed to stand up here and say that we are brave and we're not intimidated. But guess what? That is damn intimidating. This is intimidation. And it is not welcome. And my question is what the hell are we going to do about it? Or do we wait until something happens?"

Senator Dayna Polehanki announced on Tuesday that she will introduce a resolution urging the Michigan State Capitol Commission to ban guns in the Capitol.

"Twelve days ago, men in combat gear with rifles around their necks taunted us and the world was aghast," she told the State Senate floor. "In the words of our colleague from the third Senate District, what kind of Michigan are we promoting?

"Is this what we want people from around the world to see in Michigan. We support both First and Second Amendment rights here in Michigan. But intimidating legislators, staff and visitors, many of whom are children, intimidating us with guns is an affront to the democratic process."

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey called on Michigan State Police to arrest anyone seen brandishing weapons at the Capitol on Thursday and not stand "cowardly" behind the Capitol Commission.

"In those situations where it appears it breached the line of brandishing, that those individuals be properly handcuffed, properly taken in, fingerprinted and given a very long-standing photo that they can frame at home," Shirkey said.

"The law enforcement needs to take this upon their own hands and when those brandishing activities occur, they need to be addressed."

michigan protest
Armed protesters provide security as demonstrators take part in an "American Patriot Rally," organized on April 30, 2020, by Michigan United for Liberty on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, demanding the reopening of businesses. JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty

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