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Whitmer Sends Mixed Messages On Protests During Epidemic

'The First Amendment right to protest has never been more important'

On May 11, it was reported by ABC that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked Vice President Mike Pence to discourage planned protests of her executive orders.

“If discouraging protests is something you could consider doing, I'd really be grateful,” Whitmer told Pence on a conference call with other governors. ABC reported that Whitmer was concerned that protests could spread the coronavirus.

“I do think the fact of the matter is these protesters in a perverse way make it likelier we’re going to have to stay in a stay-at-home posture,” Whitmer said in a May 13 interview on ABC’s “The View.”

On May 30, Whitmer encouraged communities to set up areas for protesters over the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minnesota.

“We can’t live in a society and a country where our rights and our dignity are not equal for all," Whitmer said in a press release. "The First Amendment right to protest has never been more important, and in this moment when we are still battling a killer virus, it is crucial that those who choose to demonstrate do so peacefully, and in a way that follows social distancing guidelines to protect public health. Our administration is working closely with local elected officials, public safety, and faith, and youth leaders to encourage communities across the state to designate areas for peaceful demonstrations where people can make their voices heard."