LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A small crowd of people from across the state, many of them armed, gathered in Lansing Thursday to show their support for militias.

The American Patriot Rally hosted the event outside the Capitol Building, titling the demonstration “A Well Regulated Militia.” Organizers said the purpose of the event was to educate the public about the need for armed militias, a movement they believe is more necessary than ever following riots and unrest over racial inequity happening across the nation.

Demonstrators gather in support of armed militias outside the Michigan Capitol on June 18, 2020.

“People are wondering, ‘What do I do if they continue to defund the police?’” organizer Ryan Kelley said. “Our rally here today at the State Capitol here is to provide some education about what the militia is and ways that maybe people can learn how to stay safe in the midst of all this chaos.”

Kelley said he’s against the idea of cutting police funding but for the idea of keeping the peace. He said the militia had no intention of violence and would only fire their weapons in self-defense.

“The militia are the good guys and girls here in America,” Kelley said. “We’re the ones who want to stand up for the Constitution, we’re the ones that want peace, we’re the ones that want families to be able to thrive and business to operate and not having their windows smashed.”

About an hour into the rally, a group of counter-protesters came marching into the event. They lay silently on the ground with their hands behind their backs.

“We’re here to fight police brutality,” one of the people who participated in the silent demonstration told News 8.

Though there were a few tense exchanges between the two groups, all remained peaceful. The police reform protesters left shortly before the militia rally wrapped up around 9 p.m.

Law enforcement were aware the event would be happening. The American Patriot Rally organizers made sure to obtain all the necessary permits ahead of time. Michigan State Police were on scene throughout the evening, monitoring the peaceful demonstration from a distance.