Michigan: Trump says Whitmer should 'make a deal' with protesters

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President made remark one day after some demonstrators who entered statehouse were armed with automatic rifles

A day after armed protesters against Michigan’s stay-at-home order entered the statehouse in Lansing, Donald Trump once again expressed support for the rightwing movement.

Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, should he said “make a deal” with the demonstrators.

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World news | The Guardian

A day after armed protesters against Michigan’s stay-at-home order entered the statehouse in Lansing, Donald Trump once again expressed support for the rightwing movement.

Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, should he said “make a deal” with the demonstrators.

“The governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire,” the president wrote in a tweet on Friday morning.

“These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

Some of the demonstrators in Lansing on Thursday carried assault rifles, causing alarm among legislators.

Some protesters, many without face coverings, entered the statehouse and demanded to be let on to the House floor, which is not allowed. The gallery was closed to the public to allow room for representatives and reporters to spread apart.

Some demonstrators in the Senate gallery were openly carrying guns, which is legal. One senator said some armed men shouted at her. Some senators wore bulletproof vests.

Shanon Banner, a state police spokeswoman, estimated there were 400 to 700 protesters and said they were “peaceful” overall. People who did not wear masks or distance themselves were not issued tickets. One was arrested, for assaulting another protester.

Speakers took turns addressing a crowd on the statehouse lawn and drivers leaned on their horns, a repeat of what occurred on 15 April but not close to the thousands who participated in vehicles that day, paralyzing traffic for miles. Trump expressed support for that protest and similar rallies in other states.

In one tweet, Trump appealed to supporters of gun rights when he wrote: “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

Many of his critics accused him of inciting violence against Democratic governors and lawmakers. Tweets about a potential armed conflict with the federal government increased in the hours after the “liberate” tweets were sent.

Whitmer is rated as a possible vice-presidential pick for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee to face Trump in November.

In Lansing on Thursday, placards read “Shut down the lockdown”, “No work no freedom” and “Tyrants get the rope”. Some people wore the historic “Don’t Tread On Me” flag as a cape. Others chanted “Lock her up”, in reference to the governor. Some wore Trump’s Make America Great Again hats or carried signs supporting him.

“The virus is here. It’s going to be here ... It’s time to let people go back to work. That’s all there is to it,” said one protester, Joni George, of Flushing.

Inside the statehouse, the Republican-led Michigan legislature refused to extend the state’s coronavirus emergency declaration and voted to authorize a lawsuit challenging Whitmer’s authority and actions to combat the pandemic.

The governor responded with orders stating under one law that an emergency still exists, while declaring a new 28-day state of emergency under another law.

Who is driving the US protests against coronavirus lockdown? – video explainer

The declarations are important because they are the foundation for Whitmer’s stay-at-home measure, and other directives aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

Late on Thursday, Whitmer extended the closure of bars, casinos and other public places through 28 May. She also continued a ban on dine-in service at restaurants.

The virus that causes Covid-19 has infected more than 41,000 Michigan residents and contributed to the deaths of 3,789, many in the Detroit area.

Republicans accused Whitmer of ignoring their input.

The house speaker, Lee Chatfield, of Levering, said the death toll was “terrible”, but other lives had been “negatively impacted unnecessarily because of how we have handled this pandemic. We believe we you can prioritize public health yet be reasonable in your approach to fighting Covid.”

“We can no longer allow one person to make decisions for 10 million people,” said the Senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, of Clarklake.

Democrats opposed the legislation as an unconstitutional “political stunt”.

“We must ensure that our state can respond quickly and decisively to a situation that changes day by day,” said the representative Tyrone Carter, a Detroit Democrat who recovered from Covid-19. “That means ensuring that our governor has the emergency powers necessary to lead us in this fight.”

Whitmer accused Republicans of “putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk”.

“I’m not going to let that happen,” she said.


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