Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, amid voicing support for protesters filling the streets of her state’s cities, announced Monday that she is lifting her controversial stay-at-home order.
The governor’s action puts most of the state under Phase 4 of her six-step plan. Whitmer said Monday that she hoped to implement Phase 5 for some parts of the state later this week and the rest of the state by July 4.
She called on residents, however, to keep social distancing by staying six feet apart from one another. Whitmer also wants individuals to wear masks in enclosed public spaces.
Not everyone could follow Whitmer’s logic:
These rules are so arbitrary and indefensible. It’s just based on whatever Whitmer feels like on any given day.
How do you promote mass protests with large groups gathering in small spaces, but think a few people getting their haircut is unacceptable? https://t.co/Z87Fj0nnJo
— (((AG))) (@AGHamilton29) June 2, 2020
“Fighting the coronavirus isn’t only a matter of public health. It is a matter of civil rights,” she wrote, attacking the Trump administration because “As cities boiled over with anger at racially targeted policing, the Justice Department argued that the true victims were carwashes and a jewelry store.”
Whitmer said her lockdown orders have been designed to fight racism.
“You can see the legacy of racism in our mortality data. In Michigan, African-Americans have suffered 40 percent of all deaths from Covid-19 yet make up only about 14 percent of the population,” she wrote.
She said the federal government had no business interfering with her orders, citing a Department of Justice lawsuit filed Friday.
“There’s nothing ‘arbitrary’ about closing private businesses in response to the coronavirus,” she wrote. “What is arbitrary, instead, is the federal government’s continued refusal to grapple with the problems that are so apparent to Americans. Carwashes are not the issue.”
“Whatever the Department of Justice may think, the story of Covid-19 is a story about the historical legacy of racism in our country. With enough time and money, I am optimistic we will develop a vaccine to inoculate us from one infection. But we must bring the equivalent commitment to the cause of healing the racial divide that continues to blight the United States.”
Whitmer’s support for public protests has varied over time.
In May, she said Michigan residents fighting to end lockdowns through peaceful demonstrations and rallies were a threat to public order.
“The fact of the matter is, these protests — in a perverse way — make it likelier that we are going to have to stay in a stay-at-home posture,” she said on ABC’s “The View,” according to CNN.
“It’s sad because this is a small, relatively small group of people in a state of almost 10 million, where the vast majority are doing the right thing,” Whitmer added. “The right to dissent is something I have a great deal of respect for, but we have to do it in a way that doesn’t compromise other people’s public safety, and these protests thus far have not done it that way and I think it’s very concerning.”
In the aftermath of protests and in some cases riots that left a trail of wreckage in cities such as Lansing, Whitmer voiced her support for those demonstrating peacefully.
“To the overwhelming majority, who have taken to the streets and protested peacefully … I hear you,” she said, according to MLive. “I see you, I respect you and I support your efforts to enact real, structural change in America.”
The violence that smashed shops and torched buildings was “years in the making of abuse and sadness,” Whitmer indicated, as WLNS reported.
“And so I think the prevailing reaction is sadness and it’s got to be determination. We owe it to everyone in this state and in this country to do better.”
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