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Thousands march on Capitol to protest lockdown

Thousands march on Capitol to protest lockdown

Thousands tried to get their voice heard in Lansing last week during Operation Gridlock. Photo by Molly Ellick.

By Judy Reed

Operation gridlock descended on the Capitol in downtown Lansing last Wednesday, April 16, as thousands lined the city streets in their cars to protest Gov. Whitmer’s stay-at-home order and its extension to April 30. Many were there because they feel the order—which bans travel between primary and secondary homes, boating in boats with motors, buying landscaping material from big box stores, etc.—goes too far.

Cars lined the streets in Lansing last week to protest the Governor’s stay-at-home order.

Many people took issue with the protest, saying that people should’ve stayed home so as not to risk further spread of the virus. Photos show some people did exit their cars, but most stayed inside their vehicles to cause gridlock downtown.

While some democratic politicians in Lansing tweeted that the hospital was blocked by protesters and putting people’s lives at risk, according to the Lansing State Journal, officials denied that claim.

The LSJ said that both the Lansing Fire Department and Sparrow Health Systems said they didn’t experience any major delays from the protest. 

Lansing Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Tobin told LJS that while the ambulances were slowed down because of the congestion, crews told him it was no worse than a heavy day in rush hour.  

When an ambulance sped toward Sparrow with lights and sirens on, traffic got out of the way, Tobin said. In one photo that appeared to show an ambulance stuck in traffic on Grand Avenue and Washtenaw Street, Tobin said the ambulance did not have a patient on board. 

LSJ also quoted John Foren, spokesperson for Sparrow Hospital, who said some hospital staff were late to work because of the protest, forcing others to cover for them. He did not have a number of employees who were late, but said he believed they were isolated cases. 

People from Cedar Springs also joined the protest. Molly Ellick was one of them. Why did she go?

“I took part in the protest because Governor Whitmer’s executive order is unconstitutional,” she explained. “The first amendment protects our right to peacefully gather and no one has the authority to remove our rights. Many people choose risk when they work every day, whether it’s simply the risk of driving to and from, or the risk inherent to a dangerous profession. Medical professionals risk being exposed to viruses, contractors risk falling from high places, even professional athletes can be maimed or killed while on the job. I’ve worked in places where the men were left with partial hands from using production machinery. Risk is a part of life, and we have our own decisions to make with the life we live.

“Gretchen Whitmer repeatedly gives a voice to those in favor of a harsh lock down,” she added.  “Yet we haven’t heard from her about the men attempting suicide over their livelihoods being taken away from them. The people being denied medical care that has been deemed ‘non-emergency.’ The medical professionals watching their elderly care patients dying of a broken heart, rather than Covid-19, as everyone they love has been kept away from them. Isolation and economic ruin are as damaging to life as Covid-19.”

Ellick also thinks many of the things banned in the order don’t make sense.

“Governor Whitmer doesn’t have the authority that she took with her executive order.  Furthermore, her arbitrary selections of ‘essential’ are badly biased.  When a person can pump gas to buy a lottery ticket, but not to drive to their cabin. When they can buy a lottery ticket, but not a plant. When a healthy patient can schedule an elective abortion, but an unhealthy patient can’t schedule a non-emergency procedure that their doctor prescribes. When empty hospitals are laying off medical personnel, but supposedly we have to shut down or risk overwhelming the healthcare system. ‘We the people’ can see that it doesn’t add up. Work is essential to everyone.”

Whitmer is expected to come out later this week and extend the stay-at-home order, which was due to be lifted April 30.

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