People protest Whitmer's stay-at-home order by creating traffic gridlock, not adhering to social distancing

click to enlarge People protest Whitmer's stay-at-home order by creating traffic gridlock, not adhering to social distancing
Michigan House Republicans Twitter, @MI_Republicans

Folks, "Operation Gridlock" is in full effect, and by all accounts it looks dumb as hell.

Protesters descended upon Lansing on Wednesday, arguing that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order is excessive. The protesters say Whitmer's expanded executive order, which has shut much of the economy down through April in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus, goes too far, closing the home improvement and gardening centers at grocery stores and barring people from traveling to their cabins up north.

"People always say: 'Conservatives never protest because they are too busy working,'" a Facebook page for the protest reads. "Well, guess what. You’re not working— so it’s time to PROTEST."

Lowercase-"L" libertarian Rep. Justin Amash weighed in, saying Whitmer should reassess the scope of her order. But the protest was also fueled by some dubious conservative actors, including Andrew Malcolm, a former New York Times journalist who later worked for George W. Bush's campaign. Malcolm posted a photo of Whitmer on Twitter, falsely claiming it showed her breaking her administration's own rule prohibiting large gatherings while signing a measure that fines citizens $1,000 for not adhering to social distancing measures.

The photo was from 2019.

Nevertheless, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz retweeted it. Talk about #FakeNews.

And Meghan McCain, The View cohost who's not so much a "journalist" as she is "the daughter of a famous politician," falsely claimed that the sale of car seats for children was also banned by Whitmer — a claim to which Whitmer responded to directly. (McCain did not handle it well, apparently able to dish it but not take it.)

On Monday, Whitmer tried to calm people, assuring them that this would all be over soon, as long as we stick to the stay-at-home order.

"I want you to have your freedom. I want to have mine, too," she said during an address. "But those days where we can resume some normalcy, they are on the horizon if we keep doing what we need to do to get past this moment."

She also alleged that GOP megadonor Betsy DeVos was behind the protest — a claim that the DeVos-funded group Michigan Freedom Fund denied, saying they paid to advertise the rally, not organize it.

Nevertheless, the Michigan Freedom Fund was front and center at the protest, capturing images and posting them on Twitter. (Of course, it being Michigan, it snowed — on a day that people were protesting temporarily not being able to garden.)

The idea behind Operation Gridlock was that it would be a "drive-through" protest (which is an extremely American idea if you think about it), and the Michigan Freedom Fund urged people not to leave their cars so as to adhere to social distancing measures.

Hilariously, many protesters refused to listen even to the Michigan Freedom Fund.

A large group got out of their cars anyway, and held pro-Trump and "Don't Tread on Me" signs on the stairs of the Capitol building. Look at how close they're standing, and the lack of masks.

When asked, some protesters said they didn't fear catching and spreading COVID-19, because "the curve has turned." In fact, Michigan is one of the epicenters for the virus in the U.S., and only New York and New Jersey have more deaths. Officials expect more deaths in Michigan the coming weeks.

The gridlock went right in front of a hospital, apparently blocking an ambulance. Hope it wasn't going to treat a COVID-19 patient.

Attorney General Dana Nessel was not amused.

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Lee DeVito

Leyland “Lee” DeVito is the editor in chief of Detroit Metro Times since 2016. His writing has also been published in CREEM, VICE, In These Times, and New City. He once asked porn star Stormy Daniels to spank him with an issue of Metro Times. She obliged.

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