LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities say a protest is expected to take place at the Capitol in Lansing on Thursday and are reminding everyone that safety is a priority and state laws will be enforced.
Attorney General Dana Nessel, Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper and the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office are working together to ensure that protests at the Capitol will be peaceful and free of violence and intimidation.
“We’re asking the public to partner with us to ensure the Capitol remains a safe forum for everyone,” Gasper said in a statement. “While our desire is to interfere as little as possible in demonstrations, we will not allow unlawful, threatening or intimidating behavior. Based on safety concerns expressed following previous demonstrations, attendees can expect to see an increased MSP presence on Thursday.”
Nessel says she supports the First Amendment right to protest government actions, but activities expressing that need to be done safely and lawfully.
“The presence of heavily armed protesters at the Capitol unnecessarily creates a powder keg dynamic that is dangerous to protesters, law enforcement and public servants reporting to work at the Capitol. My office will work in coordination with local authorities and the Michigan State Police to uphold our commitment to public safety,” Nessel said.
Authorities say under Michigan law, openly carried firearms along with the intention to create fear can be criminally prosecuted for brandishing a firearm.
Those who refuse to obey lawful instructions from a law enforcement officer could face criminal prosecution for resisting and obstructing.
Authorities say they hope those who wish to be heard can safely exercise their rights. The also hope that legislators and their staff can work without being threatened.
During recent protests objecting Michigan’s stay home order, protesters wielded firearms. Some legislators and other state employees have expressed that they felt concerned for their safety.
A vote on banning guns inside of the Capitol was set for Monday but was delayed. The State Capitol Commission voted to form a subcommittee to seek input from the Legislature.