Hundreds of cars, trucks and SUVs descended on Michigan’s state capital Wednesday afternoon as part of a noisy protest against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s social-distancing restrictions that critics say have gone too far.
Dubbed “Operation Gridlock” and organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, the protest did just that – creating bumper-to-bumper traffic throughout downtown Lansing as demonstrators blasted their horns, waved Americans flags and hoisted placards deriding Whitmer’s orders and demanding that she reopen the state’s economy.
The lockdown measures are meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, but Whitmer has gone further than some other governors — and the backlash in Michigan is among the most heated in the country.
“Let’s start with the fact that some counties have no or very few COVID cases and yet are totally shut down,” Rosanne Ponkowski, president of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, said in a statement. “When did a one-size solution solve everyone’s local issues? Governor Whitmer will put you out of business before allowing mere citizens to be responsible for their own behavior. That is madness.”
Whitmer announced over the weekend an expansion to her state’s stay-at-home orders, which among other things prohibits residents from visiting family or friends with exceptions for providing care, bans public and private gatherings regardless of size or family ties, and places restrictions on what types of businesses may operate and in what capacity.
Michigan has the fourth-largest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with more 27,000 being reported as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
The orders, which are in place until at least May 1, quickly drew criticism from conservative Republicans in the state, who argue that the governor is turning Michigan into a “nanny state” and impeding their civil liberties.
“Quarantine is when you restrict movement of sick people. Tyranny is when you restrict the movement of healthy people,” Meshawn Maddock, an organizer of “Operation Gridlock” with the Michigan Conservative Coalition, told Fox News. “Every person has learned a harsh lesson about social distancing. We don’t need a nanny state to tell people how to be careful.”