Gretchen Whitmer marches with George Floyd protesters despite pandemic: 'Elections matter'

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Three days after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged Michiganders to “Google” how to cut their own hair during the ongoing coronavirus-related restrictions, the Democratic governor was spotted marching with her hands raised among throngs of George Floyd protesters in Detroit Thursday.

A video tweeted by WXYZ Detroit showed Ms. Whitmer purportedly violating her own social distancing orders by marching shoulder-to-shoulder with protesters. In the video, the governor wore a face mask with her arms raised as protesters chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

“Elections matter,” Ms. Whitmer said during the march, The Detroit News reported. “We cannot be defeated. We must move forward together. When we do that, we cannot be defeated.”

According to the state administration’s website, “Persons may engage in expressive activities protected by the First Amendment within the State of Michigan, but must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the person’s household.”

But Whitmer spokeswoman Tiffany Brown denied the governor broke any rules.

“The governor took precautions for engaging in an outdoor activity, including wearing a mask even though it is not required outdoors under the order,” Ms. Brown told The Detroit News. “Nothing in this order shall be taken to abridge protections guaranteed by the state or federal constitution.”

“That includes the right to peaceful protest,” she added.

Just Monday, Ms. Whitmer said she had a “high level” of concern about the Floyd protests potentially spreading the new coronavirus. Last month, she repeatedly criticized the anti-lockdown protesters who advocated for the reopening of the state’s economy.

“The fact of the matter is these protests, in a perverse way, make it likelier that we are going to have to stay in a stay-home posture,” Ms. Whitmer said of the anti-lockdown protesters on May 13, The Detroit News reported. “The whole point of them, supposedly, is that they don’t want to be doing that.”

On Monday, after violent protests swept the country for the sixth straight night over Floyd’s death, Ms. Whitmer urged residents to Google how to cut their own hair while hair salons and barbershops remain closed.

“If you’re one of those people that’s going to Ohio [for a haircut], I hope and pray that you are doing your part not to bring COVID-19 home,” the governor said Monday, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus. “If you haven’t resorted to that, Google how to do a haircut, or throw your hair in a ponytail or curl it and get through the next couple of weeks so we can resume some of these things.”

While the entire state has moved onto phase 4 of reopening, which includes dine-in bars and restaurants and retail stores, salons and barbershops remain closed.

Ms. Whitmer will update the state on its COVID-19 response at 11 a.m. Friday.

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