I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — Michigan is an extraordinary place to live because of the people who call it home. There are millions of Michiganders doing their part to slow the spread of #COVID19 every single day. We are going to get through this together.— Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) April 30, 2020
You'll eventually get through it, Governor. But not together. It seems quite a few Michiganders are not joining your caravan of good feelings:
These citizens are protesting they cannot leave home as they *checks notes* stand unimpeded in a public capitol, and *checks more notes* with no one trying to remove them, while they *let me see my notes* are heavily armed. https://t.co/aglKzaJOR7— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) April 30, 2020
Pursuant to Governor Whitmer's Executive Order of April 9, individuals may leave their residence "to engage in outdoor physical activity, consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household." A few days after the first public protest in Michigan, Whitmer relaxed restrictions but people were still required to remain at least six feet apart from one other.
Nonetheless, the astroturf rallies in Lansing- and elsewhere- are not "get(ting) through this together." They comprise a large group of people openly disregarding a governor's executive order with impunity. They know that, as things are unfolding in Trump's America, might makes right.
State governments should not respond to these brazenly illegal gatherings with a laissez-faire attitude. Police should warn the protesters that they are acting illegally and they should be given a period of time, such as 10-15 minutes, to disperse. An additional warning- the equivalent to "last call" at a bar- would be wise. And then, if there is no movement to disperse, arrests should be made.
Governors will not do this because the vast majority of them either agree with the protesters or are intimidated. Violence might ensue in the pursuit of what was once held up as "law and order." It would sadden people and might make for some really bad press, short-term.
The alternative, however, is much worse for the USA in the long run as the right wing learns that if it brings a lot of people, preferably some with firearms, government officials and law enforcement officers will stand down. The implications are obvious.
The old paradigm is that if an incumbent President loses, he turns the reigns of government over to the challenger who has won. There already was doubt that a defeated Donald Trump would do this and go quietly. It has become clear that the old paradigm will not hold and, if Trump is defeated at the polls, there are plenty of his supporters, emboldened by what we now are witnessing, who will realize there is little to lose by taking to the streets.