Per Business Insider Paul LaFrance, a business owner who lives in the Detroit metro area, has never protested. But that’s going to change this week.
He’s joining a group of Michigan residents planning to protest their governor’s stay-at-home order at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who was elected in 2018, issued a new stay-at-home order on Thursday to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The order, one of the nation’s most stringent, included closing parts of big-box stores that sell gardening and home-improvement goods, limiting the use of motorboats, closing public golf courses, and curbing interstate travel.
The order has affected small businesses too. Workers in the lawncare and construction industries have said it hampers their ability to make ends meet. Nationwide, in the past three weeks, shutdowns related to the outbreak have put an estimated 17 million Americans out of work.
“To say that I am furious about this would be an understatement,” LaFrance told Insider. “This is a complete overreach by the government.”
The Facebook event for the protest, organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund, instructs people to stay in their cars and “honk horns, paint cars or bring signs” to express their displeasure. More than 3,000 Facebook users have indicated that they plan to attend.
Some are already protesting, like John S. Roberts, who went to Lansing on Sunday to protest in front of the capitol. He described Whitmer’s policies to Insider as “a slap in the face to the vast majority of Michiganders.”
Lansing State Journal reports critics of Michigan’s expanded stay-home order are planning an in-vehicle protest to tell the governor they believe she has gone too far.
The Michigan Conservative Coalition and Michigan Freedom Fund, who organized the protest, asked for protesters to surround the Capitol in their vehicle at noon Wednesday to display flags and signs, make noise and be disruptive about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “erratic, unilateral orders that threaten Michiganders’ economic existence,” according to a news release. They warned protesters to come ready for a potentially major traffic jam.
This protest comes several days after Whitmer extended her order through April 30 and took the requirements of staying home a step further, banning crossing the street to visit with neighbors or driving to see friends, among other things.
“Michigan has the third highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and we’re still on the upswing,” Whitmer said last week. “We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and protect our families. Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up.”
The extension was expected, and tracks with President Donald Trump’s extension with federal social distancing guidelines and actions in other Midwest states like Ohio.
During a newspress conference Monday, Whitmer said the Michigan Freedom Fund is funded in-part by the family of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, something she called “inappropriate.”
Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine
Whitmer’s new order has been blasted for its inconsistencies, as it allows the sale of lottery tickets, but not paint or gardening tools, and lets non-Michiganders travel to their Up North cottages, but not Michigan residents.
“Michigan’s typical small business owners obey laws, but they may not notice the progressive agenda being pushed by our radical leftist Governor Whitmer,” Rosanne Ponkowski, president of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, said in a news release. “Governor Whitmer will put you out of business before allowing mere citizens to be responsible for their own behavior. That is madness.”
More than 13,000 people said they were interested in the protest on Facebook as of Monday morning, and had 2,800 RSVP’d that they would be attending.
The Michigan Conservative Coalition’s sentiments are echoed by many people in the Facebook group “Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine,” which as of Monday, its fifth day in existence, had nearly 270,000 members.
Kristi Greulich See, of Plymouth, said despite what some think, the group is not full of conspiracy theorists who deny that the novel coronavirus is a big deal.
“We’ve come to terms with something a lot of people haven’t,” Greulich See said. “People are going to get this. People will die…Our goal should be how to manage it and get through it without destroying our economy.”
She agreed with Whitmer that the first three weeks of the stay-home order were needed. Government and medical officials needed time to learn about the virus, stock up on personal protection equipment and put the disaster team in place, Greulich See said.
But now, it seems excessive, she said. Her understanding of the science behind the stay-home order was that self-isolating and social distancing would slow the spread of the virus so hospitals weren’t flooded with cases, not to eradicate the virus.
“This is going to be coming in waves for a while, it isn’t going away,” Greulich See said. “We could lock ourselves in the house and crash the economy for a year and it won’t be any different.”
But Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said this is not the time to loosen the reins.
“If we loosen up too soon, more people will die, and hospitals will become overwhelmed,” Khaldun said at a Thursday news conference with Whitmer.
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