Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer claimed that the protests against her coronavirus lockdown orders are “racist and misogynistic.”
“These have been really political rallies where people come with Confederate flags and Nazi symbolism and calling for violence,” the Democratic governor told the hosts of ABC’s “The View” on Wednesday.
“This is not appropriate in a global pandemic, but it is certainly not an exercise of democratic principles, where we have free speech,” she said. “This is calls to violence. This is racist and misogynistic.”
Although the “Operation Gridlock” Facebook event told people to stay in their cars and protest with signs, many people gathered on the steps of the state Capitol.
Whitmer told “The View” that such protests make it likelier that the state will have to remain in a “stay-at-home posture.”
“These protests, they do undermine the effort, and it’s very clearly a political statement that is playing out where people are coming together from across the state, they are congregating, they are not wearing masks, they are not staying six feet apart, and then they go back home into communities and the risk of perpetuating the spread of COVID-19 is real,” she said.
“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,” the governor said.
Whitmer added that “everyone who has a platform” needs to stop encouraging these demonstrations because they make it that much more difficult to “re-engage our economy.”
Whitmer’s claim about “Nazi symbolism” at the protests could be based on a picture of someone holding a “Trump/Pence” sign with a swastika on it that circled the internet after Operation Gridlock.
Snopes, however, reported that the image was taken at a March rally for Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders at a park in Boise, Idaho.
Still, one woman at the Michigan protest displayed a sign with a swastika on it, seemingly comparing the governor’s orders to Nazi Germany.
Pence didn’t address the protests but said the Trump administration will “continue to emphasize to people the safe and responsible practices while we’ll move toward reopening.”
Another protest outside the Michigan Capitol has been planned for Thursday, according to the Detroit Free Press.