Michigan lawmakers return seeking ways to keep capitol safe following armed protest


Protecting law enforcement and public a priority


When the legislature reconvenes today, fresh in the minds of Representatives will be last Thursday’s armed protest of Governor Whitmer and her extension of the State of Emergency to slow the spread of Covid-19 through the state. Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-19, Livonia) says she and many of her colleagues will pursue measures to avert a dangerous conflict in the capitol and to protect everyone in the building.


“Last week is the extent of what we need to see in terms of something bad happening,” said Rep. Pohutsky in a video statement. “The intimidation tactics that we saw really were concerning in terms of what could happen if things had escalated any further.” She said the policy of open carrying firearms on capitol grounds needs to be reassessed.


Besides protecting people from violence, Rep. Pohutsky wants to take steps to protect police and other capitol staff from the spread of the disease as well as protestors exercising their right to enter the building. “We need to be sure they are doing it safely and they’re not putting each other, legislators or law enforcement at risk.” Rep. Pohutsky said she and her colleagues are already screened for fever and exposure before entering the building and would like to see that safety measure extended to the public.


Standing in the way of these measures is House Speaker, Rep. Lee Chatfield (R-107, Mackinac). Earlier, he declined to discharge bills protecting essential workers and consumers in favor of political posturing by seeking to limit the Governor’s executive powers. Speaker Chatfield’s agenda appears to be in line with President Trump who applauded protesters in Lansing despite their disregard for White House guidelines for social distancing. However, his Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx has described the protests as "devastatingly worrisome", pointing out that demonstrators could potentially infect their elderly relatives with the novel coronavirus.



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