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A Michigan sheriff opposed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions told a crowd of anti-lockdown protesters Monday that the mandate was akin to placing all residents under arrest.
“What’s the definition of an arrest?” Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf told the gathering in Grand Rapids. “It’s basically taking away your free will, your right to move about.”
“And an unlawful arrest is when you do it unlawfully, so when you are ordered to your home, are you under arrest? Yeah, by definition you are,” he added.
Speaking to a crowd of about 350 people at the “Michigan Patriots Rally — Sheriffs Speak” in Rosa Parks Circle, Leaf was one of a half dozen speakers and the only sheriff, according to MLive.com.
MILITIAS PROVIDE SECURITY FOR SOME CORONAVIRUS PROTESTS AS LOCKDOWNS PROMPT ARMED DEFIANCE
Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, front right, speaks next to members of the Michigan Liberty Militia during the “American Patriot Rally-Sheriffs speak out” event at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. The crowd was protesting against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic. (Cory Morse/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)
During his speech, he invoked the site’s name when he compared the civil rights icon to a barber who refused to keep his shop closed, calling him a “little version of Rosa Parks.”
Whitmer has come under intense criticism over her stay-at-home order to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Critics argue the mandate is an example of government overreach at a time when the outbreak has ravaged the economy and many are facing financial uncertainty.
In one protest last month, demonstrators stormed the Capitol building in Lansing to call for an end to the restrictions and business closures.
Whitmer loosened some restrictions in Michigan’s northern region and Upper Peninsula in an effort to reopen the state. Beginning Friday, bars, restaurants, retail shops and offices will also be allowed to reopen, the outlet reported.
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Leaf said the governor had “took some wind out of my sails” but that it should have happened sooner given the small number of COVID-19 cases in those regions.
Several sheriffs throughout the state have said they will not enforce the stay-at-home order, and will instead choose to educate suspected violators.