Organizers discuss rally planned in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A rally against Gov. Whitmer’s stay home orders is scheduled for Monday evening at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids.

This event comes after several rallies in Lansing to reopen the state. Monday’s event will mark the first in West Michigan. Organizers are calling it the American Patriot Rally — Sheriffs Speak Out.

Organizers say they’re expecting more than 1,000 people to fill the plaza. 

“We’re going to be coming here with a very specific message. We’re going to be encouraging that law enforcement officers across the state uphold the constitution and they don’t enforce the illegal executive orders from the governor,” said organizer Ryan Kelley.

Kelley says he’s not concerned about COVID-19. He says he wants Michigan to reopen now.

“There’s been a lot of things happening across the state with businesses shutting down and affecting families in a very negative way. It’s been something that has been hard to see as they put their life savings into their business, people lose their jobs and are affected by how they can afford food for their families,” Kelley said.

Despite protests, Whitmer has stayed firm in her stance that the stay home order is a life saving measure and the state will reopen when it’s safe to do so. 

“We will get to a point where each of these sectors is reengaged, but we have to be smart about it. Impatience that flies in the face of science is dangerous to all of us,” Whitmer said Friday during a COVID-19 update.

Monday’s protest will bring several out-of-state speakers. Organizers say Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf is also expected to speak.

Grand Rapids Police will be at the protest too but say they are in no way participating or associated with the event. They say they will be there only to ensure safety.

“I and our entire department fully support the right to free speech and expression,” Chief Eric Payne said in a statement to News 8. “There are expectations for those exercising that right to do so in a safe manner. This group, as with all others that hold expressive speech events in our city, will be held to that same standard.”  

Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young also told News 8 that she will not be participating in the rally.

Organizers say they hope the governor receives their message. 

“As the people, we’re holding the governor accountable, we’re holding the government accountable and who runs the state? It’s the people,” Kelley said.

The protests starts begins at 5:30 p.m. on Monday. Organizers are not requiring that attendees wear masks. They say they are encouraging people to bring American flags only. They also say they are expecting some militia groups to be in attendance. 

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