Protesters in Michigan planning to rally at the state Capitol on Thursday are being warned that if they brandish firearms in an intimidating manner at the event they could be arrested.
The warnings come after several members of the groups planning on attending the rally called for the assassination of Governor Gretchen Whitmer which saw one man writing: ‘Can we please just take up a collection for an assassin to put that woman from Michigan down.’
On Monday, Whitmer said she respected people’s rights to protest but was becoming ‘increasingly concerned about the violent nature of the comments being made’ and the ‘extreme rhetoric already connected to Thursday’s rally.’ She has requested that if people decide to protest that they wear masks and practice social distancing.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said that despite a longstanding rule that Michiganders with permits can bring weapons into the Capitol, ‘anyone brandishing them in such a way as to intimidate or threaten anyone else should be properly handcuffed, properly taken in and fingerprinted.
‘Law enforcement needs to take this upon their own hands,’ Shirkey said. ‘When those brandishing activities occur, they need to be addressed and I’m calling on the attorney general and the governor to do so with the cooperation of the Michigan State Police.’
There have also been suggestions that Michigan State Police will back up the governor’s orders on social distancing and could hand out legal citations to those breaking guidelines.
‘Based on previous demonstrations at the Capitol, it is evident that not all people voluntarily comply with the safety measures put in place,’ said state police spokeswoman Shanon Banner to Freep.com. ‘We will be prepared to take enforcement action, as necessary.’
Facebook has removed one of the groups called Michigan United for Liberty, which organized a rally at the Capitol last month.
A Facebook spokesperson said the group was removed because it violated the company’s policy against inciting violence.
The threats come just days before a planned rally at the Capitol in Lansing on Thursday. Several members wrote in the groups that they will be at the rally and hope others will be ‘armed to the teeth’.