(14 May 2020) FOR CLEAN VERSION SEE STORY NUMBER: apus136160
Hundreds of people angry or frustrated over Michigan's coronavirus stay-at-home order protested again outside the state Capitol on Thursday, braving heavy rain to urge a loosening of restrictions or for business owners to reopen in defiance of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The demonstration was smaller than previous rallies. It was led by Michigan United for Liberty, a conservative activist group that has sued Whitmer and organized or participated in several protests since early April.
People in the crowd of roughly 200 held signs declaring "Stop KILLING our businesses and our people" and "Whitmer is the Virus."
"How many businesses in this state or country even can afford to stay shut down for a couple, three months on end? Not many that I know of," said David Saxton, a 40-year-old IT specialist from Alma, in central Michigan. He said he lost his job, is receiving unemployment benefits and noted that a COVID-19 vaccine may not be ready for a year and a half.
Though state police described the last demonstration as peaceful overall, lawmakers from both parties criticized some protesters for intimidating and threatening tactics.
Some carried guns at Thursday's rally. Organizers tried to keep the focus on reopening the state. Several masked counter-protesters stood silently in support of the governor's actions to keep the virus from spreading.
Whitmer, whose handling of the crisis has broad public support, according to polls, has gradually reopened some sectors such as manufacturing, construction and real estate.
Darcey Atkins, a 52-year-old from Grant, in central Michigan, held two small American flags and wore a hat in support of President Donald Trump. She questioned why she can go to Walmart but not her church.
"I think Americans need to realize their freedoms are being taken away," Atkins said. "And if they don't stand up for them right now, there won't be any freedom to stand up for."
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
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