Hundreds of pro-gun activists demonstrated at Michigan’s State Capitol on Friday in support of the right to open-carry firearms inside the government building, as well as the state’s stay home orders due to the coronavirus. Heavily-armed protestors, some waving Confederate flags and Trump campaign banners, stood on the lawn outside the capitol building in Lansing brandishing AR-15 firearms and wearing body armor. Almost none of the protesters wore masks.
The protest was planned weeks ago, shortly after the Michigan State Capitol Commission rejected two proposals to ban weapons in the statehouse. Among those in attendance were members of the Proud Boys—a far-right, all-male organization with a history of violence against political opponents—and the Michigan Liberty Militia, a paramilitary group. Estimates put the number attending the “Second Amendment March,” which caused the legislative session to be canceled, at between 200 and 1,000.
This isn’t the first time a protest like this has interrupted a session at the Michigan State Capitol. Right-wing activists have also threatened Michigan’s Democratic Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, both at her home and her office, which necessitated additional security after several Facebook posts called for her to be “hanged, lynched, shot, beaten, or beheaded”. One suggested crowdfunding sources to hire a hitman to kill her.
After two hours of speeches, a group gathered on the steps of the Hall of Justice chanting “U-S-A” and “four more years” for Donald Trump.
Young girl with toy weapon at a 2nd Amendment rally at the Michigan State Capitol. #OnlyInAmerica
(pic: Rebecca Cook) pic.twitter.com/EsMGR21vlo
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) September 18, 2020
“Whether you decide to open carry or concealed carry, that is your choice,” said Tom Lambert, former president of Michigan Open Carry. “It is not my job to make that decision for you. It is not their job to make that decision for you either.”