Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defends breaking social distancing for unity march: "important to show support"

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer participated in a Unity March in Highland Park on Thursday where it was not possible to social distance despite her executive order that residents maintain 6 feet to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She said she did that because it was important to show support from her office to the cause.

On Thursday, Gov. Whitmer marched alongside Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and hundreds of others at the Unity March in Highland Park. Standing shoulder to shoulder, Gov. Whitmer marched to honor George Floyd alongside members of the clergy and police officers.

During the march, Gov. Whitmer said it wasn't possible to observe social distancing, despite that mandate still being in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

"We couldn't always observe six feet apart but we were wearing masks the whole time," Whitmer said during a press conference on Friday. "We never shook hands, didn't high five or hug the way that we usually greet on and other but I thought that it was an important moment to show my support and show a unified leadership out of the executive office of the governor."

Gov. Whitmer's stay home order was lifted on June 1 and groups can gather but are still expected to maintain social distancing. That has proven to be impossible as protests in Michigan and throughout the country have broken out over the past week.

The Governor was criticized and called a hypocrite by some online, including the group 'All Business is Essential', which said the Governor failing to observe social distance was an insult to unemployed Michigan residents.

"I’m furious this morning,” said group leader Erik Kiilunen. “This is a slap in the face to every Michigander who has struggled to pay their bills, been forced to close up their business, or been threatened with prosecution for working. The leaders we elect should lead by example, but Governor Whitmer, like so many politicians before her, just proved that those in power hold themselves to a different standard than the rest of us!"

Gov. Whitmer said they had ample access to hand sanitizer during the march.

Mayor Duggan and Governor Whitmer marched down Woodward with religious leaders on Thursday to demand change and equal treatment for Black men and women.

"As I talk to my friends in the black community, exhaustion is the predominant word used. And it's understandable. I could not imagine being a mother of children of color and worry every time they leave the house," Gov. Whitmer said.