A group of furious Michiganders are planning to descend on the state capitol to protest the stay-at-home crackdown

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A group of furious Michiganders are planning to descend on the state capitol to protest the stay-at-home crackdown

Gretchen Whitmer protest
  • A group of Michigan residents infuriated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's strict stay-at-home orders are planning a Wednesday vehicle protest on the State Capitol in Lansing. 
  • The pandemic has slammed Michigan harder than any other state in the US, save for New York and New Jersey. 
  • Still, Whitmer has faced a backlash for her executive order banning residents from traveling within the state to get to their second homes, and for designating items like garden supplies as non-essential. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Paul LaFrance, a business owner who lives in the Metro Detroit area, has never protested. But that's going to change this week.

He's joining a group of Michigan residents planning a Wednesday protest on the State Capitol in Lansing against their governor's stay-at-home orders. 

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Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who was elected governor in 2018, issued a new stay-at-home order on Thursday that took unprecedented measures against the coronavirus pandemic. This order is one of the nation's most stringent and included shuttering parts of big-box stores that sold gardening and home improvement goods, limiting the use of motor boats, closing public golf courses, and curbing inter-state travel.

The stay-at-home order has affected small businesses, too. Workers in the lawncare and construction industries have also pointed out that the stay-at-home order hampers their own ability to make ends meet. Nationwide, in the past three weeks, shutdowns related to the virus have put an estimated 17 million Americans out of work

"To say that I am furious about this would be an understatement," LaFrance told Insider. "This is a complete overreach by the government."

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The Facebook event for the protest, organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund, instructs people to stay in their cars and "honk horns, paint cars or bring signs" to express their displeasure. More than 3,000 say on Facebook that they plan on attending. 

Some are already protesting, like John S. Roberts. He took to Lansing on Sunday to protest in front of the state capitol, and described Whitmer's policies to Insider as "a slap in the face to the vast majority of Michiganders."

Whitmer's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider. 

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Fighting one of the biggest American outbreaks of the coronavirus

Some Michigan residents are getting angrier and more frustrated at the burdensome restrictions on travel and what businesses are considered essential. 

But Whitmer and medical professionals maintain 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 in Michigan in the month of March alone. That's higher than the death toll from car crashes in Michigan for the entire year.

"Protecting the health and safety of the people of Michigan remains the governor's number one priority," Whitmer's office said in a statement to MLive. "She has worked closely with Speaker (Lee) Chatfield and Sen. Shirkey throughout this emergency, and will continue to do so. We welcome constructive participation from the legislature, but the priority must be on taking actions to slow the spread of this virus and keep Michiganders safe."

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The pandemic has slammed Michigan harder than any other state in the US, save for New York and New Jersey. As of April 12, there are 24,638 confirmed cases in Michigan and nearly 1,500 confirmed cases, with three counties surrounding and including Detroit most affected.  

Dr. Matthew Sims, an infectious disease expert at Michigan's Beaumont Health, told local outlet Bridge Magazine that significant social distancing must continue in the state, even amid the slowdown of new cases. "Flattening doesn't mean it's safe to break social distancing," Sims told Bridge. "Because once you do that (the virus) is going to surge."

Despite what medical professionals advise, a group of Michiganders are still against the travel crackdown. Some like Jolene Holtz, who lives in the Lansing area, have pointed out that the surge in cases has mostly been in the Detroit area - but the entire state has been burdened with the stay-at-home policies.

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"I have noticed more ads concerning mental health on the radio," Holtz told Insider. "Ironically, (Whitmer) has closed garden centers, home improvement stores, et cetera. Those activities could improve people's mental health and also provide an activity which is far healthier than sitting around, which is what she would have us do."

And others like Lee Chatfield, who is the Republican Speaker of the House in Michigan, have pointed out a schism in the stay-at-home order - activities like buying seeds for the are banned, while marijuana dispensaries have remained open. 

 

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