Dramatic photos and videos show angry Michiganders creating a traffic jam around the state capitol to protest their governor's strict stay-at-home order
- Hundreds of Michigan residents descended on the state capitol in their cars and trucks for a vehicle demonstration labeled #OperationGridlock to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's strict stay-at-home orders.
- The order, one of the nation's most stringent, included closing parts of big-box stores that sell gardening and home-improvement goods and barring Michigan residents from traveling to their upstate cabinets.
- "To say that I am furious about this would be an understatement," Paul LaFrance, who told Insider he planned to attend Wednesday's protest, told Insider. "This is a complete overreach by the government."
- See dramatic photos and videos of Michiganders driving through rain and snow to express their displeasure outside the state capitol.
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Hundreds of Michigan residents descended on the state capitol in Lansing on Wednesday in their cars and trucks for a vehicle demonstration labeled #OperationGridlock to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's strict stay-at-home orders.
Whitmer, a Democrat who was elected in 2018, issued a new stay-at-home order on Thursday to combat the coronavirus pandemic that protesters are decrying as draconian and violating their individual liberties.
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, barring residents from fleeing the most heavily afflicted parts of the state to their cabins in rural Michigan.
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.
The Facebook event for the protest, organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund, instructed people to stay in their cars and "honk horns, paint cars or bring signs" to express their displeasure. Still, many people got out of their cars and protested the Governor's order on foot, violating social distancing guidelines.
Protesters drove to Lansing through rain and snow to protest Whitmer
Michigan has been especially hard-hit by the coronavirus
Some Michigan residents have become angrier and more frustrated at the burdensome restrictions on travel and what businesses are considered essential.
But Whitmer and medical professionals have said that such measures are essential to curb the fast spread of the coronavirus. As she pointed out on Friday, the coronavirus killed nearly 1,300 people in Michigan in March alone. That's higher than the death toll from car crashes in Michigan for the entire year.
The state reported 1,366 new COVID-19 cases and 166 new deaths on Tuesday alone, bringing the state total to 27,000 cases and nearly 1,800 deaths primarily concentrated in the Detroit Metro area.
But some Michiganders believe the Governor's order goes too far, and is counterproductive to the goals of limiting the virus' spread.
"To say that I am furious about this would be an understatement," Paul LaFrance, who told Insider he planned to attend Wednesday's protest, told Insider. "This is a complete overreach by the government."
The Governor's office and public health experts, however, insist that the stay-at-home orders are necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus to more rural parts of the state that don't have the necessary hospital and public health infrastructure to handle a surge of cases.
"Governor Whitmer believes that everyone has a right to protest and speak up," Whitmer's deputy press secretary Chelsea Lewis said of the Wednesday protests in a Monday statement to Insider.
"She knows that a lot of people are angry and frustrated, and will always defend everyone's rights to free speech - the Governor asks those who choose to protest these orders to do so in a manner that doesn't put their health or the health of our first responders at risk."
Whitmer's office also noted that the Michigan Freedom Fund, one of the groups behind the protest, is largely financed by ultra-wealthy conservative donors Dick and Betsy DeVos, the latter of whom currently serves as President Donald Trump's Secretary of Education.
"It's highly inappropriate for a group that's primarily funded by a member of the president's cabinet to be launching a partisan political attack during the worst public health crisis in a century," Lewis added. "We should all be on the same team fighting the same enemy, and that's COVID-19."
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More than an hour before the "Operation Gridlock" rally, trucks bedecked in flags, pulling boat trailers, sporting hand painted messages on their roofs have gathered around the state Capitol.- Beth LeBlanc (@DNBethLeBlanc) April 15, 2020
A decent amount of protesters are on foot as well. pic.twitter.com/I9lEfITahU
There is an ambulance that can't get through on Grand. pic.twitter.com/9l99NIJQfg- Zach Gorchow (@ZachGorchow) April 15, 2020
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