Protester with ax involved in clash at Michigan rally against stay-at-home orders

(LANSING, Michigan) — BY: IVAN PEREIRA

Police broke up a fight involving a man with an ax in the middle of a rally against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus emergency orders Thursday.

A spokesman for the Michigan State Police Department said one of the attendees tried to take a sign out of another demonstrator’s hand and a fight ensued among the crowd outside the state Capitol in Lansing. One of those involved was carrying an ax and the entire incident was caught on video and posted to social media.

“The ax was safely turned into law enforcement. There were no injuries,” the Michigan State Police department tweeted Thursday morning, adding that no arrests were made.

A spokesman for the department said the investigation is ongoing and couldn’t provide more details about the skirmish.

MLive reported that one of its photographers saw the fight and that the sign in question was an American flag that had a naked doll hanging from its neck in a noose.

State Police reported there were 200 people in attendance in the rally. Some of the rally members said they were part of militias and had guns and rifles.

Michigan is an open carry state, but state police issued a warning to rally members Wednesday that they would make arrests if anyone brandished a gun in a manner that “inflicts fear on a reasonable person.”

“If you are caught doing such a thing, we will address that and you could be subject to an arrest immediately here on the grounds,” Lt. DuWayne Robinson said in a Twitter video.

Two weeks ago, rally members spilled into the Capitol and crowded the hallways and stairs, demanding state leaders reopen the economy. Some state senators donned bullet-proof vests out of concern for their safety.

The governor’s stay-at-home order is in effect until May 28, but she has eased back on some restrictions over the last few weeks. Manufacturing — particularly auto plants — as well as retail and some recreational services, like golf courses, have been allowed to reopen with precautions in place.

As of Thursday morning, Michigan had more than 48,391 coronavirus cases and more than 4,714 deaths, according to data from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. This represents an increase of more than 8,000 cases and more than 1,100 deaths since the April 30 rally.

Whitmer said the rallies are a potential health hazard as protesters gather in large groups and are not six feet apart.

“While I respect people’s right to dissent, they need to do it in a way that is responsible and does not put others at risk,” she told ABC’s “The View” on Wednesday.

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