Wednesday April 15th, traffic slowed to a crawl around the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. Protesters in cars and trucks blocked streets to demonstrate opposition to the coronavirus restrictions put into effect by Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The protest began at noon, and there were thousands of participants in vehicles honking horns and waving flags. Even though the Facebook group announcing the event asked protesters to stay in their vehicles, many disregarded the request and exited their cars to gather around the capitol. Protest organizers include the Michigan Conservative Coalition and the Michigan Freedom Fund. Their protest was called “Operation Gridlock”. The protesters are upset about Whitmer’s extended “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which placed new restrictions on residents and businesses through the end of April.
Protest organizers specifically point to limits on the type of merchandise stores are allowed to sell, the total closure of all indoor restaurant and bar dining facilities, and the limits on certain types of work people perform outside their homes. Whitmer contends that these restrictions are slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
The story caught the attention of national media with coverage on most networks. On a Facebook Live post, media organizers expressed surprise at how quickly the idea went viral. The group’s Facebook page announcing “Operation Gridlock” had more than 4,000 members as of Wednesday morning saying they planned to attend, while another 17,000 expressed interest. Organizers estimate that upwards of 100,000 people participated in the protest.
Reporting for WGRT – Marty Doorn & Jessie Wiegand