by Scott McClallen
After media reports hyped “armed protests” in Lansing, some businesses boarded up windows, and Mayor Andy Schor issued news releases telling residents to stay away from downtown.
Police say now that only 25 protesters showed up at the event’s peak.
“There were more media than protestors,” Michigan State Police (MSP) Public Information Officer Brian Oleksyk told The Center Square, adding there were no incidents or arrests.
It’s unclear how long the National Guard will remain at the Capitol or how much taxpayer money was spent to control what eventually became one of the smaller protests at the state Capitol.
The Michigan State Police will maintain an increased presence around the Capitol until at least mid-February, according to Public Affairs Manager Shanon Banner.
In a bulletin last week, the FBI said there could be armed protests in state capitols across the country. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer activated the National Guard.
For about two hours, a small group calling themselves the “Boogaloo Boys” protested while open carrying rifles, smoking cigarettes, and eating beef jerky. They left afterward without incident.
One of the lone, unarmed protestors was smoking cigarettes and waving a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag that he left wedged inside the six-foot fence around the Capitol.
Other bystanders snapped pictures for social media waving American flags and Trump 2020 signs.
Others protested unrelated topics. One woman stood with a sign, which read: “A loan will not save small businesses alone,” referring to Whitmer’s initial “3-week pause” on indoor dining that’s now a 75-day shutdown through Jan. 31.
For weeks, Attorney General Dana Nessel has claimed the Capitol building isn’t safe because concealed carry is allowed inside the building. Last week, the Capitol Commission banned open carry inside the building.
Nessel has conflated the open-carry protests, which are legal, with intent to commit violent acts, arguing the Capitol “isn’t safe,” while warning the Lansing protests in April 2020 set the stage for the unrest in Washington on Jan. 6.
Nessel tweeted on Jan. 15: “Michigan was a dress rehearsal for what we saw in DC last week. We can and must act now to keep our Capitol buildings and democracy safe from intimidation and violence.”
Nessel was referring to when armed protestors upset over COVID-19 restrictions stood in the Senate gallery above lawmakers on April 30.
Eleven days after some of President Donald Trump’s supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol, heightened security, a fence, and the National Guard protected the Lansing Capitol to prevent any similar action.
Five people either died in clashes or medical events associated with the U.S. Capitol event, and dozens of people were arrested.
Police in Lansing said there were no incidents or arrests made Sunday.
“It has all stayed peaceful. Everything has been calm,” Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said in a Sunday afternoon news conference after most bystanders and protestors left.
Lawmakers canceled session in the House and Senate from Jan. 19-21 after law enforcement raised concern over “credible threats.”
“We hope everyone stays safe and respects the peaceful transition of power, and we hope legislators and staff at the Capitol take time to thank the team of police officers and sergeants who work together to keep us all safe,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R, Clarklake, and House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Clare, said in a statement.
“As we have said before, the riot at the U.S. Capitol last week was a terrible moment for our country. We must be better than this as a nation, and that begins this week with what will hopefully remain peaceful protests and demonstrations in Washington, D.C., Lansing and around the country.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org.
Photo “Michigan Capital Protest” by Scott McClallen