Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says gun-toting protesters who demonstrated inside the state Capitol "depicted some of the worst racism" and "awful parts" of U.S. history.
Whitmer made the assertion during a Sunday appearance on CNN and before the release of the latest number of deaths in Michigan related to the coronavirus. Officials say the 29 new deaths, which increased the number to 4,049, was one of the lowest daily increases since the pandemic began in Michigan.
During the CNN appearance, Whitmer noted the protests featured "Confederate flags, and nooses," as well as swastikas.
Demonstrators, waving a Confederate States flag (2nd L), take part in an "American Patriot Rally," organized on April 30, 2020, by Michigan United for Liberty on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, demanding the reopening of businesse
This follows similar comments she made last week during her press conference regarding COVID-19 in Michigan. Gov. Whitmer said the scene was 'disturbing' and that "swastikas and confederate flags, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders."
Earlier in the day on Friday, President Donald Trump said Whitmer suggested Whitmer needed to work with the protesters.
"These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal."
During her Friday briefing, Whitmer said the state is working to determine when it's safe to start to reengage and the decision is based on data on infection rates and medical results.
"It's important that we do the next right thing and it's going to be driven by the data and medical experts. not political polls, not political posturing and not political maneuvers like you saw yesterday at the capitol."
Whitmer has likened her plan to reengage the economy to a dial, rather than a switch. She has said that the state will slowly turn the dial up on businesses, instead of flipping a switch and allowing everyone to return to life before COVID-19.
Whitmer addressed the reopening of construction work and set 'best practices' that construction sites have to follow in order to reopen on May 7.
Michigan's GOP Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey responded to the protests saying the people who were trying to intimidate other people do not represent the cause.
"Yesterday (Thursday), we saw a great number of citizens protest the actions of their government. Many protested safely and responsibly and I respect and appreciate their efforts. Several other so-called protestors, used intimidation and the threat of physical harm to stir up fear and feed rancor. I condemn their behavior and denounce their tactics. Their actions hurt their cause and steal from the rights of others by creating an environment where responsible citizens do not feel safe enough to express themselves. They do not represent the Senate Republicans. At best, those so-called protestors are a bunch of jackasses."