LANSING, Mich. - A conservative group upset with the Michigan governor's restrictive shelter-in-place order protested Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Stay Home order in Lansing on Wednesday.
The Michigan Conservative Coalition organized Operation Gridlock in Lansing today. Thousands of people drove into Lansing and have surrounded the Michigan Capitol Building to create a traffic jam - a symbolic gesture of disagreement with Gretchen Whitmer's Stay Safe, Stay Home directive.
"We are all concerned for those afflicted with COVID 19. Yes, many of the personal behaviors we have been reminded to use are good practices. Wash your hands. Cover your cough. Stay home if you are sick," read a note on the MCC's website. "That said, Michiganders are fed up!"
Arguing that more emphasis be placed on reopening business, many residents are worried the restrictive social distancing measures add only a marginal benefit at the expense of the state's economy.
The protest was supposed to start at noon but people were already packing the roads by 9 a.m. and hundreds of people were standing in front of the Capitol and not social distancing, despite the Facebook event page requesting they stay in their cars. More drivers were jammed on Capitol Ave, where the one-way three-lane road was bumper to bumper for several miles north of the Capitol.
FOX 2's Charlie Langton was social distancing among the crowd who told them they were not social distancing because it was their right not to do so but they understand the health crisis. They said they wish Gov. Whitmer had more faith in them not to get infected.
While Whitmer acknowledged the pressure her constituents were under as the economy sputters, she's also rebuked calls to ease restrictions - arguing she's "got to listen to medical experts to know when and how it's safe to reengage our economy."
Some feel that their constitutional rights have been infringed by the order, however. On Tuesday, four Michigan residents filed a federal lawsuit against Whitmer and her order, claiming their right to associate with their friends and family was being abused.
"It's taking a sledgehammer to an ant," said attorney David Helm on Tuesday. "We believe it is over-broad and over-reaching. There is a way to do it appropriately without infringing on Constitutional rights like the governor has."
Questions over when and how to restart the economy are among the many questions state and federal lawmakers are facing as the country contends with uncertainty over the COVID-19 outbreak. While there are some indications that Michigan may be over the peak of new COVID-19 cases, Whitmer and her chief medical executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun have cautioned they aren't out of the woods yet.
The country's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has echoed similar concerns that reopening the economy too soon could lead to a second outbreak.
At the same time, Michigan and the country's unemployment rate has spiked with 10% of the workforce out of a job. Problems with the state's unemployment filing website have exacerbated issues for workers in Michigan who have struggled to apply for aid.