Last week Governor Gretchen Whitmer sparked criticism by taking part in a tightly packed protest that clearly appeared to violate 6 ft social distancing guidelines.
.@GovWhitmer @LtGovGilchrist and Bishop Charles Ellis lead a group of marchers in Detroit honoring the life of #GeorgeFloyd. Marchers call out "hands up, don't shoot!" @wxyzdetroit @ABC pic.twitter.com/ExR28L3dIm
— Jenn Schanz (@JennSchanzWXYZ) June 4, 2020
Appearing on MSNBC, Whitmer was asked to respond to the criticism.
Then how do you respond to the criticism you received that you yourself didn’t practice social distancing while you participated in a peaceful protest, and did wear a mask?”
I wore a mask the whole time. I did not greet people the way that I usually do with hugs or handshakes or high-fives. I recognize that that is how COVID-19 spreads. But our right to demonstrate, this First Amendment right is something that, in this moment, I thought it was important to show up, to show solidarity with so many who are protesting police brutality in our country.
We need to take steps and we need to show unity. And where that is lacking on the national front, it is incumbent on governors to take this seriously and to set the example. So, as people protest, I’ve asked them to keep wearing the mask, to try to socially distance, but it’s not always going to be something that you can do, especially in a march like this.
But refrain from the handshakes and the high-fives and the hugs that we know bring us in close proximity. And when you’re speaking, keep that mask on. It is the throwing of your voice, the projecting that actually creates the place where COVID-19 is spreading.
And that’s why it’s so important that, as leaders take on these opportunities to show the leadership that’s so lacking across the country and from the national front, that we demonstrate the kind of activity that we’re asking everyone else to continue portraying.