May 13, 2020
Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper are aware that some Michiganders are expected to protest at the Capitol in Lansing Thursday and are reminding residents that public safety should be a priority for everyone and that state laws will be enforced.
The Attorney General’s office is working in coordination with the Michigan State Police and the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office to ensure any protests that occur at the state Capitol are peaceful and free of violence and intimidation.
“We are in unprecedented times which have called for significant measures to protect the health and safety of Michigan residents. I vehemently support the First Amendment right to protest government actions at the Capitol or elsewhere around the state; however any such activity must be done in a manner that is safe and lawful,” Nessel said. “The presence of heavily armed protestors at the Capitol unnecessarily creates a powder keg dynamic that is dangerous to protestors, law enforcement and public servants reporting to work at the Capitol. My office will work in coordination with local authorities and the Michigan State Police to uphold our commitment to public safety.”
“We’re asking the public to partner with us to ensure the Capitol remains a safe forum for everyone,” said Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police. “While our desire is to interfere as little as possible in demonstrations, we will not allow unlawful, threatening or intimidating behavior. Based on safety concerns expressed following previous demonstrations, attendees can expect to see an increased MSP presence on Thursday.”
Under Michigan law possession of an openly carried firearm coupled with an intention to create fear in another person could subject an individual to criminal prosecution for brandishing a firearm. Additionally, if a person refuses to obey a lawful directive from a law enforcement officer, that person could be subjected to criminal prosecution for resisting and obstructing.
Authorities are hopeful that the voices of those who wish to be heard can exercise their rights in safety and that our Legislature and their staff can do their important work without being threatened. Protestors unable to adhere to the rule of law and who behave in a threatening and unlawful manner can expect to be held accountable in our courts.
During recent events at the Capitol, some residents carried firearms in protest of Michigan’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, leading some legislators and other employees working at the Capitol to express that they were concerned for their wellbeing. The executive order limits the activities of businesses and people during the COVID-19 pandemic and was issued to protect human life.