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Armed Protesters Storm Michigan State Capitol To Demand State’s Reopening

President Trump later defended the protesters, saying they are “very good people.”

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Hundreds of protesters, some of whom were armed, filled Michigan’s state capitol on Thursday demanding that the state not extend its coronavirus-related shutdowns. On Friday, President Trump commended the protesters as "very good people."

Dubbed the "American Patriot Rally," the protest was organized in response to the state legislature’s vote that day on whether to extend Michigan’s state of emergency.

Photos posted online showed some of the protesters brandishing weapons and yelling at state police officers stationed inside the building while notably not wearing face masks. 

"Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them," state Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D) tweeted. "I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today."

After the Republican-controlled Michigan legislature voted on Thursday to discontinue the state's coronavirus emergency declaration, which was set to expire at midnight. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order later that night to extend it.  

"While some members of the legislature might believe this crisis is over, common sense and all of the scientific data tells us we’re not out of the woods yet," Whitmer stated. "By refusing to extend the emergency and disaster declaration, Republican lawmakers are putting their heads in the sand and putting more lives and livelihoods at risk. I’m not going to let that happen."

Following the orders, various business closures and the state of emergency will remain in effect until May 28. On April 24, Whitmer also extended the state's stay-at-home order until May 15.

In response to the protest, President Donald Trump tweeted that Whitmer "should give a little, and put out the fire." 

"These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal," he continued.

The armed protesters and the president's sympathetic stance toward them drew swift criticism.