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Stay-at-home order protest draws 200-300 people

About 200 to 300 protesters gathered Thursday in front of the state Capitol to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Others stayed in their vehicles and beeped their horns as they drove through downtown Lansing.

Joe Calamia says he’s been to other demonstrations and thinks news coverage was overblown. He says this rally was low-key in comparison to earlier ones.

“There’s no Confederate flags. There’s no swastikas. So, I’m satisfied this is a pretty peaceful demonstration," he said. "There’s a few people with rifles, but no one’s getting shot so…”

There was a heightened police presence after people showed at earlier demonstrations with guns.

Bruce Langlois owns a kennel and dog-grooming business in Lowell near Grand Rapids. He says he’d like to see businesses re-open faster.
“The thing is, you’re not going to be able to totally eliminate exposure. I mean, that’s part of what’s going to happen. It’s gotta happen whether you open now or you open a year from now, it’s going to go through everybody," Langlois said. "But if you’re a person who is high risk, then you need to quarantine yourself.”

The demonstrators endured periodic downpours through their rally.

There were also pro-Trump and anti-abortion demonstrators. Some people carried guns and a lot of people did not wear face coverings.

There was a brief altercation between two people. The Michigan State Police say an axe was confiscated.

Governor Whitmer has started lifting restrictions, but says large gatherings risk spreading the coronavirus. She says that could force her to reinstate stricter orders.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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