Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) wants residents to gather together to protest, but her executive order restricting church attendance is still in effect.
Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garland Gilchrist say they are “encouraging communities across Michigan to designate areas for peaceful demonstrations” in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
People in communities of color across the nation and right here in Michigan are feeling a sense of exhaustion and desperation. We stand in solidarity with those who are seeking equitable justice for everyone in our state. Full statement below ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/2o72jikTPO
— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) May 30, 2020
“Communities are hurting, having felt that calls for equity, justice, safety, and opportunity have gone unheard for too long,” they said.
“The First Amendment right to protest has never been more important, and in this moment when we are still battling a killer virus, it is crucial that those who choose to demonstrate do so peacefully, and in a way that follows social distancing guidelines to protect public health.”
Whitmer and Gilchrist said their administration is “working closely” with locals to create the areas “for peaceful demonstrations where people can make their voices heard.”
Meanwhile, Whitmer said she is allowing groups of ten or less to gather in churches.
A group of churches filed a federal suit against the governor, and shortly thereafter, she declared in Executive Order 2020-70, “Consistent with prior guidance, neither a place of religious worship nor its owner is subject to penalty under section 20 of this order for allowing religious worship at such place.”
Whitmer has previously chastised protesters calling for the reopening of the state.
“We know that this demonstration is going to come at a cost to people’s health,” Whitmer told reporters after the “Operation Gridlock” protest.
“We know that when people gather that way without masks, they were within close proximity, they were touching one another, that that’s how COVID-19 spreads,” she said.
She went on to blame the protesters for further restrictions she may impose in the future.
“So the sad irony here is that the protest is that they don’t like being in this stay home order,” she said, “and they may have just created the need to lengthen it.”
She said she wouldn’t predict that “a certain percentage” of protesters would fall ill, “but I know that, just by congregating, they’ve made that a real possibility, that they’ve endangered other people’s lives.”
She didn’t issue a similar warning when she encouraged people to protest now.
Kyle Olson is a reporter for Breitbart News. He is also host of “The Kyle Olson Show,” syndicated on Michigan radio stations on Saturdays. Listen to segments on YouTube. Follow him on Twitter and like him on Facebook.