Republican Sen. Mike Shirkey calls Lansing protesters 'a bunch of jackasses'


  • State Sen. Mike Shirkey.

Though Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey sides with those who believe Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's coronavirus pandemic executive orders go too far, he distanced himself from Thursday's protests, which included some people entering the State Capitol Building while brandishing guns.

Shirkey, a Clarklake Republican, issued a statement on Friday condemning the protesters for using "intimidation and the threat of physical harm to stir up fear and feed rancor."

"They do not represent the Senate Republicans," he said. "At best, those so-called protesters are a bunch of jackasses."

Under Michigan law, people can bring guns into the state Capitol.

Whitmer also condemned protesters, some of whom were waving Confederate flags and holding signs saying things like "Tyrants get the rope."

"Swastikas and Confederate flags, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders," Whitmer said at a press conference on Friday. "This state has a rich history of coming together in times of crisis. Our brave soldiers fought to keep the Union intact during the Civil War. We came together as the Arsenal of Democracy to defeat the Nazis because we were united against a common enemy. Now we must channel that same energy against our common enemy, which is COVID-19."

(President Donald Trump, who egged the protesters on with a "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" tweet, said they were "very good people, but they are angry.")

Shirkey also had harsh words for Whitmer, criticizing her executive order that extends Michigan's state of emergency through May 28.

"With breathtaking disregard for the law, our Governor took an action yesterday which will memorialize Michigan’s spot in dubious, embarrassing history," he said in a Facebook post.

"Michigan now has earned the distinction of having a Governor, drunk on the addiction of unfettered power, declaring that she, and she alone, can and will continue to act unilaterally to lock down our society, our culture, and our economy," he said.

Shirkey sent an email to Whitmer proposing "two one-week extensions in exchange for a public agreement that all future stay-at-home-type orders be enacted through bipartisan legislation" instead of an executive order.

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.