A spokeswoman for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer confirmed Friday morning the Michigan National Guard has been activated in advance of expected right-wing protests in downtown Lansing this weekend.
Tiffany Brown, the governor’s communications director, confirmed the Guard’s activation in a text message, and referred questions about the number of troops called up and other operational details to the public information officer for the Michigan National Guard.
On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a bulletin warning of armed violent protests being planned in all 50 state capitols and Washington, D.C. ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The acknowledgement from Whitmer’s office comes in the wake of an email sent by Lansing Police Department (LPD) Chief Daryl Green is warning people who work in downtown Lansing between Jan. 17 and 20.
“The event is a 2nd Amendment event so you will likely see a large number of persons with firearms on both days,” Green wrote of expected protests. “Unfortunately we currently don’t have a clear picture of those attending. However, we are requesting for those that don’t have a state purpose to be downtown during these dates to not come downtown.”
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor requested the deployment of the Michigan National Guard on Tuesday. This morning’s confirmation of activation is the first time Whitmer’s team have acknowledged the Guard will be fully involved in security in the Capitol city.
“The Michigan State Police is leading security efforts in coordination with the Michigan National Guard and other public safety agencies,” wrote Brown in a text message Friday morning. “The MSP has the governor’s full confidence in their ability to safeguard the Capitol Building, Capitol Complex and the Greater Lansing downtown area.”
MSP, LPD and other law enforcement authorities have scheduled a 10 a.m. press briefing Friday to discuss security preparations.
As the Advance has reported, experts have warned that a coalition of militias, right-wing activist groups, white supremacists and others are planning to descend on capitols across the country on Sunday. This follows the pro-President Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
In a hint of potential problems looming for an expected Jan. 17 protest, leadership of the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia have directed its members not to attend events in Lansing.
“We have received intelligence that this may be a false flag event,” said Michael Lackomar, team leader for the SMVM and a regular spokesman. “We have additional intelligence that the Proud Boys intend to be there to cause ‘maximum chaos.’ In our security assessments, we believe protesters will not have safe escape from downtown should things go sideways. We are encouraging people to stay away.”
Green’s email also encourages the public to avoid downtown, although it indicates security preparations including gaming out a variety of scenarios.
“Given the civil unrest observed at the U.S. Capitol, LPD will assemble teams of law enforcement to clamp down on developing problems resulting from protestors,” he wrote. “We are trying to anticipate hazards before they happen and request for those in the public not to attend the event. The City of Lansing Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will activate on the above dates to further monitor any activity and crowds as well as coordinate resource requests and responses to individual situations with City departments. The EOC is a collaborative effort between City departments along with county, state and federal partners.”
Green’s email also disclosed that increased police patrols in downtown Lansing will begin Friday. In addition, law enforcement teams will be staged in nearby neighborhoods in preparation for any civil unrest.
Here is the email in its entirety:
Over the past two weeks, the Lansing Police Department has been working in conjunction with the Michigan State Police, FBI and other federal and local law enforcement agencies to deploy resources in the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods to ensure persons can safely participate in the exercise of their First Amendment rights on January 17 and 20, 2021 at the State Capitol.
We are taking additional security measures at our police headquarters and other parts of the City and are confident in our preparation and coordination with our federal, state and local partners. Mayor Schor requested Governor Whitmer to assist with National Guard members and we are now actively integrating their assistance into our operational planning at this time. Michigan is an open carry state and we are working to prepare for extreme circumstances as best we can. The event is a 2nd Amendment event so you will likely see a large number of persons with firearms on both days. Unfortunately we currently don’t have a clear picture of those attending. However, we are requesting for those that don’t have a state purpose to be downtown during these dates to not come downtown.
First Amendment expression is sacred to our democracy, which is why we are deploying public safety resources to ensure that right is protected for every single one of our city’s residents. Through weeks preparations and contingency planning between all of our departments and agencies, the City is working tirelessly through an all-hands-on-deck effort to ensure safety.
Given the civil unrest observed at the U.S. Capitol, LPD will assemble teams of law enforcement to clamp down on developing problems resulting from protestors. We are trying to anticipate hazards before they happen and request for those in the public not to attend the event. The City of Lansing Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will activate on the above dates to further monitor any activity and crowds as well as coordinate resource requests and responses to individual situations with City departments. The EOC is a collaborative effort between City departments along with county, state and federal partners.
To supplement on-the-ground public safety resources, LPD will increase its patrol beyond its regular deployments downtown starting Friday. Additionally, the LPD will deploy law enforcement assets that will be strategically positioned to protect neighborhood commercial corridors and critical businesses in the event of potential public safety incidents.
During this unprecedented year of pandemic and civil unrest, LPD is working around the clock to provide safety in the City of Lansing. With expected rallies and large gathering demonstrations at the Capitol the City has communicated heavily with MSP and Capitol Security to ensure we have the resources and guidance needed to be prepared for such activity. We will actively inform people as this event develops on our social media platforms and further via the press.
Chief of Police