By Allie Ouendag
Protesters gathered at Rosa Parks Circle in Downtown Grand Rapids on May 18 in objection to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders.
The protest was organized by American Patriot Rally, a group that was also involved in organizing the Lansing protests in late April. Many participants ignored social distancing guidelines and gathered without masks or personal protective equipment.
This did not deter protester Sarah Rivera, however. Rivera splits her time between Arizona and Michigan.
“I am not afraid of the virus,” Rivera said. “We have had viruses for thousands of thousands of years. I am not afraid to die, we were born to die.”
This is Rivera’s second protest since quarantine, the first being in Arizona where she spends the winter. She said her main concern is that she believes the governor has overstepped the constitution and is showing tyrannical leadership.
This echoed the concern of the majority of protesters who likened Whitmer’s leadership to that of a dictator. Executive orders issued by the governor in response to the pandemic are deemed excessive and unconstitutional by protesters who say they believe that the orders infringe on their rights.
In a response earlier this month while appearing on ABC’s “The View,” Whitmer expressed concern for public safety as protesters continue to hold rallies across the state.
“The fact of the matter is, these protests — in a perverse way — make it likelier that we are going to have to stay in a stay-at-home posture.”
Speakers at the rally included Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf who has publicly stated that he will not enforce the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Leaf told Fox News in April that “law enforcement has a duty — any law that they know is unconstitutional, they have a duty not to enforce it.”
The protection of their Second Amendment rights was also a concern for protesters as many openly displayed their assault rifles. The organizing facebook post for the event encouraged participants to “exercise your 2nd amendment right as a show of support to law enforcement in their fight against tyranny.”
Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey emphasized this point after opening his speech singing “God Bless America.”
“I came here with three weapons: a sidearm, a Bible, and a constitution,” Shirkey said to the crowd.
Shirkey came under fire earlier this month for referring to stay-at-home order protesters in Lansing as “a bunch of jackasses.”
Grand Rapids Police Officers were stationed around the event. All were wearing masks as their main objective was to ensure the safety of both protesters and the public.