Fisticuffs broke out at the Michigan State Capitol building on Thursday morning, after a display that included a doll with a noose tied around its neck prompted an altercation between a protester and a counter protester, MLive reported.
The Lansing building has, for days, been the scene of protests, largely against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her stay-at-home orders, intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, photos of armed protesters, including at least one of a protester screaming in the face of a police officer, have gone viral.
On Thursday, one of the protesters appears to have brought a display that included an American flag, a garage can, and an unclothed doll with a noose draped around its neck.
At some point an unidentified woman took the flag from the display.
“I took his flag away, because that’s not what it stands for,” she could be heard saying in a video captured by a local reporter.
A protester also tried to remove the doll, and fisticuffs erupted. The man who brought the display fled the scene, but only got as far as the building’s front lawn before Michigan State Police surrounded him.
Meanwhile, a speaker could be hearing saying, “This is what the media wanted.”
The man was taken inside the building to get him away from the crowd. Officials took his statement, and according to State Police spokesperson Lt. Brian Oleksyk, he will be allowed to press charges if he wants to. Whether or not he intends to do that remains unclear, as of this writing.
In a tweet, Michigan State Police identified the victim as a 60-year-old male.
There was an incident between two demonstrators, in which one demonstrator tried to take a sign out of another demonstrator's hand. There are no injuries and no arrests were made. The victim is a 60-year-old male.
— Michigan State Police (@MichStatePolice) May 14, 2020
The same woman who claimed to have taken away the flag from the garbage can later addressed the crowd, saying that what had taken place there was a hate crime.
“I took his flag away, because that’s not what it stands for… Hate crimes are not tolerated in Michigan, end of story,” she said. “Just so you guys know, I’ll fight that, physically if I have to,” she said.
Jazmine Early, 49, who attended the protest, said that she suspected that agents provocateur might try to cause trouble at the event, in order to get the attention of the media and cast a bad light on what the protesters are about.
“He came with something that he thought would catch attention from the media,” Early said.