Armed anti-government protesters descended on the state capitol in Kansas while supporters of President Trump did the ‘MAGA dance’ near a large float outside the governor’s mansion in Lansing, Michigan, on Thursday as protests continued against state-mandated closures of businesses during the pandemic.
Hundreds of people protested Thursday against Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s stay-at-home order for the state, many waving signs on sidewalks while others drove slowly around the Statehouse in Topeka.
Similar protests have been held across the country, with participants contending stay-at-home orders are damaging the economy and violate their civil rights. Health and government officials argue the orders are the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Armed veterans demonstrate in front of the state capitol building demanding that businesses be allowed to open up, people are allowed to work, and lives return to normal in Topeka on Thursday
The protest was part of a growing national movement against stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus
A Trump supporter wears a t-shirt with the president’s likeness while holding signs calling Democratic Governor Laura Kelly a ‘socialist’ and a ‘dictator’ who ‘rules like Putin’
Demonstrators drive by the state capitol building as they demand that businesses be allowed to open in Topeka on Thursday
About 150 people stood on the south side of the Statehouse or walked around the building with signs and American flags as at least 200 cars drove slowly around the building.
Many of the participants carried signs or waved flags supporting the re-election of President Donald Trump.
Other participants were anti-vaccine activists, members of the tea party movement and gun-rights supporters.
One vehicle was festooned with a Confederate flag; one protest sign promoted a far-right conspiracy theory.
But a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey showed that Americans remain overwhelmingly in favor of stay-at-home orders and other efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
At the Statehouse, a few local nurses stood silently in scrubs to thank health care workers and counter-protest.
The protests came as the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Thursday reported 2,482 confirmed cases, up from 2,211 reported Wednesday.
The state reported 112 people have died, two more than reported Wednesday.
The number of infections is likely higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
To help medical personnel respond to the cases in health care facilities and nursing homes, Kelly on Wednesday signed an executive order that suspends requirements that doctors supervise physician assistants, advanced practice practical nurses and licensed practical nurses.
The order also allows nurses with inactive or lapsed licenses to provide services and permits medical or nursing students to volunteer to work in health care facilities.
‘Our health care facilities need as much flexibility as possible as we approach our projected peak infection rate in the coming days to ensure that hospitals do not become overwhelmed,’ Kelly said during a news conference Wednesday.
A man on horseback takes part in the anti-lockdown protest as he carries an American flag in Topeka on Thursday
A military veteran armed with an M-16 assault rifle is seen above in front of the state capitol building in Topeka on Thursday
A protester waves an American flag while holding signs demanding that the state lift stay-at-home orders in Topeka on Thursday
‘Rights are not a form of business,’ reads the sign held by a demonstrator in front of the state capitol building in Topeka on Thursday
A small counter-protest staged by three health care workers is seen above in front of the state capitol building in Topeka on Thursday
Kelly signed another order Wednesday that allows sales of alcoholic beverages that are not in their original containers.
The order applies to bars and clubs but also would allow people to buy single drinks for takeout at restaurants.
In order to prevent drinking while driving, the drinks must be inside a plastic bag that is tamper-proof before patrons can take it from the restaurant.
State officials also announced the first confirmed cases at the Topeka Correctional Facility and the Kansas Neurological Institute.
One female inmate tested positive at the prison for women in Topeka, and two male staff members had confirmed cases at the state hospital for developmentally disabled.
The protests came as the Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Thursday reported 2,482 confirmed cases, up from 2,211 reported Wednesday
Armed veterans pose in front of the state capitol building in Topeka, Kansas, on Thursday
The state on Thursday reported 112 people have died, two more than reported Wednesday. The number of infections is likely higher because many people have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick
Other participants were anti-vaccine activists, members of the tea party movement and gun-rights supporters
One vehicle was festooned with a Confederate flag; one protest sign promoted a far-right conspiracy theory
Wesley Ralston of Dodge City, Kansas stands with protesters in front of the state capitol building in Topeka on Thursday
A masked demonstrator walks in front of the state capitol building as protesters demand that businesses be allowed to open up
Marian Stevens sells toilet paper in front of the state capitol building in Topeka on Thursday
A woman tapes a sign to her car in front of the state capitol building in Topeka on Thursday
State Senator Kevin Braun speaks to demonstrators in front of the state capitol building in Topeka on Thursday
In Lansing, a group of protesters stood outside Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s official residence, waved American flags and pro-Trump banners, and signs denouncing the Democrat.
The centerpiece of the protest was a large parade float, also known as the ‘Trump Unity Bridge,’ which had the words ‘TRUMP’ and ‘UNITY’ written in giant letters.
There was also a large makeshift wall with the words ‘Build the Wall’ written on it.
The bridge, which measures some 50 feet long and more than 13 feet tall, weighs approximately 9,000 pounds.
Driven by a Michigan resident and ardent supporter of the president, it has made appearances in several high-profile events, including Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March in Washington, DC.
Several of the president’s supporters stood in front of the float and did the ‘MAGA dance’ where they sang and moved to the tune of the Village People hit YMCA – though they changed the lyrics and letters to fit the acronym of Trump’s signature slogan – ‘make America great again.’
The protest on Thursday appeared to be significantly smaller than the demonstration held last week outside of the State Capitol in Lansing.
Large crowds of protesters gathered last week at the urging of Trump, who encouraged his followers to ‘liberate’ Michigan as well as other states including Minnesota and Virginia.
The Michigan protest was dubbed by organizers online as ‘Operation Queen’s Castle.’
The event page on Facebook featured a photoshopped image of Whitmer wearing a crown.
In Lansing, Michigan, Trump supporters stand in front of the governor’s mansion and do the ‘MAGA dance’ in front of the ‘Trump unity bridge’ – a 50ft float driven by a backer of the president who lives in Michigan
A small caravan of protesters drive in the afternoon near Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s official residence on Thursday
A small group of protesters held signs and waved flags while demonstrating in front of Whitmer’s official residence in Lansing on Thursday
A group of open-carry advocates from Illinois chat with a Michigan State Police Trooper on Thursday in Lansing
Trump supporters wave flags and banners praising the president during Thursday’s demonstration in Lansing
Several photographers and television camera people were on hand to document the protest in Lansing on Thursday
A Michigan State Police Trooper patrols while a small caravan of protesters circle a neighborhood near the Michigan governor’s mansion in Lansing
It encouraged protesters to meet ‘near the taxpayer-funded mansion to advocate re-opening Michigan NOW, as well as ask Whitmer why she does not follow her own order and “Stay Home, Stay Safe?”’
Officials in Michigan announced on Thursday that there were 1,325 new cases of COVID-19 and 164 new deaths.
That brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Wolverine State to 35,291 cases. The confirmed number of deaths stands at 2,977.
Whitmer made clear on Wednesday that she will extend her stay-at-home order beyond April 30 and that some form of it will be in effect for a ‘long time’ in Michigan, hinting that people age 65 and older and those with chronic lung problems may face restrictions longer than others.
The governor said she hopes to say more on Friday about the loosening of business limits to restart parts of the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.
People will have to stay home unless they are explicitly permitted to leave under what is expected to be a revised measure, she said.
‘There will be a need for an extension of some sort,’ Whitmer told reporters.
‘We know that even when we get to a stable moment, people who are compromised, who are vulnerable to COVID-19, are still going to need to stay home.
‘Some version will be in effect for a while.’
Republicans who control the Michigan Legislature said they will meet Friday to pass bills to rein in Whitmer’s emergency powers and create a committee to oversee the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, a dramatic strike against the Democrat amid the health crisis.
A spokeswoman for Whitmer promised a veto and said Republicans were ‘playing dangerous partisan games’ while the governor is focused on saving lives and controlling the spread of the virus.
Republicans are unhappy with the breadth of Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, though polling shows the public believes she made the right calls.