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Whitmer likens U.S. Capitol riots to protesters storming Michigan Capitol in April

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a Dec. 10,. 2020 press conference.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a Dec. 10,. 2020 press conference.(State of Michigan)
Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 4:06 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Watching scenes of mob riots at the U.S. Capitol with her daughters on Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was reminded of similar events that took place at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing last April.

About six weeks after Whitmer issued Michigan’s first coronavirus restrictions, armed protesters descended on Lansing and stormed inside the Capitol building. The Legislature was in session at the time, debating whether to extend Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order.

Those memories were fresh in the mind of Whitmer during the Washington riot on Wednesday. She believes the tense mob of protesters shouting and chanting in the Michigan Capitol were targeting her.

“I kept thinking, why haven’t they paid attention to what happened in Michigan,” Whitmer said during an exclusive interview with ABC12 on Thursday. “Eight months ago, we saw people storm our capitol with long guns and automatic rifles to intimidate lawmakers and me. I wasn’t there, but they thought I was and that was their intention.”

She blames rhetoric and statements from President Donald Trump for sowing discord that ultimately led to Wednesday’s riot, which took place while Congress was going over Electoral College results and officially awarding the presidency to President-elect Joe Biden.

“Words have consequences, and the seeds of of division, and hatred and violence that have been sown by this White House have come to fruition,” Whitmer said. “And we’ve seen it play out here in Michigan. I’ve asked, I’ve asked the White House. I asked Vice President Pence I asked Michigan Republicans to help me lower the heat and none of them would do it. Then, now we see this happen in our nation’s capitol. I wasn’t surprised, but I was heartbroken.”

She said America’s democracy is “fragile” and political leaders have taken an oath to defend the Constitution first, not their political party.

“And that’s what we should insist on -- all of our leaders that they respect the will of the people in our election, and that they uphold the incredible important foundations of this democracy,” Whitmer said.

She hopes everyone involved in rioting and storming the U.S. Capitol should be held accountable, including the six Michigan residents arrested around the Capitol and the White House on Wednesday and early Thursday.

Whitmer also pledged to “redouble my efforts” to reach across the political aisle and offer goodwill for Republicans who oppose her policies. She and her predecessor, former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, issued a joint statement on Wednesday calling a national healing process after the riots.

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