Protests against coronavirus-related restrictions on individual liberty are continuing to spread.
On Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators flooded the capitol building in Lansing, Michigan. Some displayed a large sign reading “freedom” on the capitol steps, while others gathered in the public gallery of the building. The protest was organized by the organization Michigan United for Liberty.
“The solution is worse than the problem,” protester Ryan Kelley said of the state’s stay-at-home orders banning most businesses from operating and people from leaving their homes for all but essential reasons.
One of the protesters, Karen Kirkpatrick Hoop, called the demonstration “an incredibly beautiful and freedom-invoking vision… This is an international movement of people that are fed up with an increase in government control.”
Authoritarian politicians, unsurprisingly, were not so positive. “Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us,” complained State Senator Dayna Polehanki. “Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today.”
“Yesterday’s scene at the capitol was disturbing, to be quite honest,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Swastikas and Confederate flags, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders. This state has a history of people coming together in times of crisis.”
My response to these criticisms of the protest is: if you don’t want people to protest against you, maybe you shouldn’t take away their fundamental rights. Whitmer might have a point about swastikas – although I did not see any of those in any photos or videos of the protest – but there is nothing wrong with Confederate flags or guns. As for the nooses, Whitmer seems to be referring to signs that said, “Tyrants get the rope.” To which I would respond, if you don’t want to see such signs, perhaps you should stop being a tyrant. Also, there is nothing honorable about “coming together in times of crisis” if coming together means complying with authoritarian policies. The protesters should be praised for their courage, not criticized.
President Trump voiced his support for the protests, tweeting, “The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”
More protests took place today in Chicago, Raleigh, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful tyranny,” read one protester’s sign outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento.
And even more protests all over the country are scheduled for this weekend.