Michigan residents armed with rifles and handguns defy stay-at-home order

Hundreds of people, some openly carrying rifles and handguns, have been protesting against restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus in the US state of Michigan.

The state’s governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered people to stay at home and non-essential businesses to remain closed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

More than 630,000 people in the US have been infected with the virus, which causes only mild symptoms for many but can lead to severe complications or even death for others.

Coronavirus: Infection numbers in real time

Coronavirus: Infection numbers in real time

Thousands of people in the US have died, including more than 1,900 people in Michigan. Some 884 of these were in the city of Wayne and another 330 in the township of Macomb, according to data from US university Johns Hopkins.

Protest organisers had asked people to remain in their cars and cause traffic gridlock while holding signs in their cars to make their views known.

But many protesters ignored this, making their way to the state Capitol in Lansing on foot to criticise the stay-at-home order, which has been extended to 30 April.

Among the signs protesters held were those saying: “We are not prisoners” and “Michigander against Gretchen’s abuses”. Others described the order as “tyranny”.

Meshawn Maddock, a member of organisers Michigan Conservative Coalition, said: “This arbitrary blanket spread of shutting down businesses, about putting all of these workers out of business, is just a disaster.

“It’s an economic disaster for Michigan and people are sick and tired of it.”

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Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, criticised the protesters for putting public health at risk, as they were standing close together without wearing masks.

She told reporters she had seen someone handing sweets to children with their bare hands, adding: “We know that this rally endangered people.

Coronavirus: Race for the vaccine

Coronavirus: Race for the vaccine

“This kind of activity will put more people at risk and, sadly, it could prolong the amount of time we have to be in this posture.”

She said she was aware of the pain caused by the restrictions but that they are necessary to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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