Armed protesters rallied at Michigan’s State Capitol this week to advocate for the right to openly carry firearms inside the government building and to support Second Amendment rights.
As Newsweek reported, hundreds of activists stood on the lawn surrounding the building in Lansing, many carrying rifles and wearing body armor, and some waving Trump campaign banners and Confederate flags. While the rally itself was meant to advocate for Second Amendment rights, the report noted that some extremist elements also appeared to be present.
“Among those in attendance were members of the Proud Boys—a far-right, all-male organization with a history of violence against political opponents—and the Michigan Liberty Militia, a paramilitary group,” the report noted.
As Bridge Michigan reported, there were dozens of people from “various militias” who showed up to the rally, including the fringe group Boogaloo Bois, which has been connected to a series of violent incidents. A U.S. Air Force sergeant with links to the organization was charged with the killing of a federal security officer in California during Black Lives Matter protests earlier in the summer, reported the BBC.
Some of the organizations taking part in the rally in Michigan this week said they intend to raise their public stature.
“Militias are finally starting to realize that we have an important role in the public eye,” Phil Robinson, co-founder of the Michigan Liberty Militia, told Bridge Michigan. “The time is not to hide in the shadows. The time is to get out and be vocal, be visible.”
Some scenes from the Second Amendment March in Lansing today: pic.twitter.com/PSSRrStV70
— Craig Mauger (@CraigDMauger) September 17, 2020
But not all have promoted violence. Amy Cooter, a lecturer at Vanderbilt University who has studied militias, told Bridge Michigan that while there is some overlap with fringe elements, many have a goal to help their communities.
“Many genuinely see themselves as sort of civil servants,” Cooter said. “They think it’s their personal duty as good Americans, and mostly good American men, to protect not just themselves but their families and their communities.”
Images from this week’s event at the state capitol showed a number of attendees waving American flags and some holding shields with the names of the groups they represented on them. There were even some families, including one young girl seen with a rifle slung over her shoulder. The Lansing building has been the site of other rallies in recent months, including an event in May supporting a barber whose business license was revoked by the state after it reopened during Michigan’s lockdown period.