Protesters are expected to descend on the Michigan Capitol on Sunday as part of what could become chaotic and major protests at state capitals throughout the country. Lansing State Journal staff are on the ground to keep you informed. Check this blog for live updates throughout the day.
A police helicopter patrolled the sky over downtown Lansing on Sunday morning, its low hum foreshadowing what federal security agencies warned could turn into a dangerous scene.
Boards covered windows of businesses and government buildings below. Police were out in droves, joined by a procession of National Guard humvees. A 6-foot fence surrounded the Michigan Capitol, a message declaring the building would not be overtaken like the U.S. Capitol days before.
Lansing was prepared for chaos that did not materialize.
Be sure to check out our story from Carol Thompson, Kara Beg and Craig Lyons right HERE.
Also, check out columnist Graham Couch’s column HERE.
Updated: 3:27 p.m.
Both Lansing Mayor Andy Schor and Police Chief Daryl Green said that the National Guard will remain available if there are any more protests or armed demonstrations.
“The National Guard will be available at the ready as needed, especially through Wednesday,” Schor said.
Updated: 3:25 p.m.
Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green said the police department will remain prepared for any sort of armed demonstrations or escalated protests through inauguration day.
“We’ll remain in a high state of awareness and preparedness and we’re going to continue to and monitor our infrastructures,” Green said in a press conference.
– LSJ staff
Updated: 3:15 p.m.
As of 3 p.m., there have been no incidents of violence from protesters or counter-protesters, said Lansing Mayor Andy Schor at a 3 p.m. press conference.
“It has all stayed peaceful,” Schor said. “That’s tremendous … to make sure that people could exercise their first and second amendment rights without any violence or conflict.”
– LSJ staff
Updated: 2:40 p.m.
At the moment, it appears that the coordinated plan between the National Guard and multiple police departments has kept the number of protestors small. At its peak, there were about 100 protestors and it was at about 20 a half-hour ago, according to Michigan State Police
– LSJ staff
Updated: 2 p.m.
Michigan State Police Lt. Brian Oleksyk said he’s seen at most 20 protesters in the past half hour at the Capitol in downtown Lansing. The rest are media and police, reports Kara Berg of the LSJ.
– LSJ staff
Updated 1:40 p.m.
The protest is going safely, Lansing Police Department spokesperson Robert Merritt said in an email at 1:30 p.m. There have been “no incidents at this point.
Lansing police and other state and federal law enforcement departments said Friday they were prepared for a large protest to take place. There is a heavy police presence downtown.
Police and journalists appear to outnumber protesters.
— Carol Thompson
Updated: 1:35 p.m.
As the afternoon goes on and the snow begins to come down a little bit harder, journalists are reporting on social media that the crowd appears to be dwindling.
There were no more than 100 protesters at the most, according to the LSJ’s Craig Lyons.
– LSJ Staff
Updated 12:50 p.m.
More protesters are streaming into downtown Lansing as part of an armed protest at the Michigan Capitol.
There were several dozen gathered by 12:45 p.m. Some are armed with long guns, which are allowed to be openly carried on the Capitol grounds.
Some protesters are wearing attire that references their affiliation with the boogaloo movement. The Boogaloo “Bois” are a far-right extremist group aiming to overthrow the government that gained strength during coronavirus lockdown protests last year, USA Today reported in June.
— LSJ staff
Updated 12:30 p.m.
Brian Cash traveled to downtown Lansing out of curiosity Sunday.
He wants to see what’s going to happen, predicting the demonstration would be smaller than police have anticipated.
He attended the rally-turned-riot in Washington on Jan. 6.
“Dozens and dozens of us just walked in, looked around and walked out,” he said, contending he didn’t do anything wrong that day.
Cash is a seasoned Capitol protester and familiar face to anyone tracking demonstrations held against coronavirus lockdowns and in support of President Donald Trump.
Cash was photographed, unmasked, shouting at a Michigan State Police trooper inside the Capitol on April 30 during the raucous demonstration in which armed demonstrators entered the building.
“Protesting is an individual thing,” Cash said Sunday. “You can’t tell somebody how to protest.”
As long as they do it nonviolently, he added.
— Kara Berg
Police and National Guard members are making their presence known in downtown Lansing at noon, the time the planned armed protest is supposed to start at the Michigan Capitol.
Some clusters of protesters are starting to gather on the Capitol grounds. There is a heavy police presence.
— LSJ staff
Updated 11:30 a.m.
Lorence Wenke of Galesburg parked his pickup truck in front of the Michigan Capitol on Sunday morning to display his support of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer via a large yellow sign.
“Thank you for your Leadership, Grace and Integrity,” the sign reads.
Wenke, a former Republican state representative, said he was not there to counter-protest the armed demonstrators expected to arrive at noon. Instead, he said he wanted to recognize Whitmer for doing “an excellent job” making touch choices about Michigan’s coronavirus response.
Wenke, like many Americans, still reeled from watching the insurrectionist mob break into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress prepared to certify the results of the November election, which incoming President Joe Biden won.
For Wenke, it was a frustrating scene.
“It was a horrible day for the United States of America,” he said.
— Craig Lyons
Updated 11 a.m.
Few people were gathered downtown Sunday morning before the expected armed demonstration at noon.
But police presence was significant. Helicopters have been circling downtown for hours, National Guard troops prepared to respond, Lansing police officers walked through town with police dogs and Michigan State Police troopers walked the sidewalks surrounding government buildings.
— Craig Lyons
Updated 9:11 a.m.
Lansing has closed a number of streets surrounding the Capitol, the site of an expected protest Sunday.
As of 9 a.m., the following streets are closed, according to a map the city released online:
- Ottawa Street between Pine Street and Grand Avenue
- Allegan Street between Pine Street and Capitol Avenue
- Capitol Avenue between Ionia and Allegan streets
- Walnut Street between Ottawa and Washtenaw streets
- Townsend Street between Allegan and Washtenaw streets
The streets will be closed until further notice.
, state and federal law enforcement promised they were prepared for anything to happen Sunday, the day demonstrators are expected to visit Lansing for an armed protest.
More: Preparations for Sunday protest include boarded-up windows, Capitol fencing and National Guard
“We are ready at this time,” Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green said Friday.
Tensions are high after an insurrectionist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was set to certify the Nov. 3 election, which incoming President Joe Biden won.
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor urged city residents to avoid downtown on Sunday.
Airbnb, a popular online vacation rental platform, said Saturday the company was reviewing Lansing reservations to screen for guests “who may present a risk of violence.”