Armed demonstrators are expected again Thursday in Lansing to rally against Governor Whitmer’s stay-at-home order. Tense confrontations at previous protests combined with hateful and violent rhetoric in conservative Facebook groups has renewed a call for a ban on firearms within the Capitol building.
Democratic State Senator Mallory McMorrow says she feels uncomfortable in the current political climate.
“I’d be lying if I said I felt completely safe. And I know that is the goal," she said. "When somebody comes dressed in full tactical gear carrying rifles, I don’t see what the goal is besides intimidation.”
Attorney General Dana Nessel says demonstrators have an absolute right to express their displeasure with the government — with a qualifier.
“The Capitol and its grounds is not a sanctuary for crime or for criminal activity either. You know, this isn’t The Purge. You don’t get to come to the Capitol and say ‘I’m exercising my First Amendment rights no laws apply to me whatsoever’ that’s just not the case,” Nessel said.
Nessel says the plan is to arrest anyone who breaks the law. That includes protesters who brandish a firearm in a threatening manner.
“Brandishing a weapon. That’s illegal in any other part of the state – it’s illegal on Capitol grounds. Resisting and obstructing a police officer," she said. "You get in a police officers face and they tell you to move back and you don’t, you’re going to be asked to leave. If you don’t leave, you’re gonna be arrested.”
Social distancing will not be enforced, only encouraged.
Democrats have introduced a resolution to ban firearms inside the Capitol building, but it’s unlikely to be taken up by the Republican-controlled legislature.