MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) (04/29/2020) – A three-way gridlock is breaking out between protesters, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order and Facebook.
A rally is scheduled at the State Capitol in Lansing on Thursday to protest that order. But organizers say Facebook keeps taking the event down.
“We don’t want some of our rights back, we want our full rights back,” said protester Jason Howland.
He believes his constitutional rights are being infringed upon.
“Whatever your belief is in the virus, it’s shown how fragile our freedom is and how easy it is for them to say, ‘OMG, the boogeyman is around the corner. Stay in your house and stay safe,'” Howland said.
Like thousands of residents across Michigan, Howland said his business has been severely affected after Whitmer issued the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order last month. He is ready to get back to work full-time and is willing to ignore that order to fight for the right to do it.
“And I don’t, by saying that, mean to dismiss anyone that’s had struggles with the virus. But what I mean is, we are Americans, where freedom has always come before safety and, I believe, good choices,” Howland said.
He is one of the organizers for Thursday’s rally in Lansing. To get as many like-minded people to show up as possible, Howland created an event on Facebook two weeks ago, which he says has been repeatedly removed from the site.
“For me personally, I’m a business owner and I’ve spent quite a bit of money over the years on Facebook for advertising, and then I do an above board protest, which we have the right to do, and they take it down. And so I think that’s a bit unfair,” Howland said.
Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg offered an explanation for the removal.
“We do classify that as harmful information and we take that down,” Zuckerberg said.
Previous protests in Lansing showed people in close proximity to each other. Most of them were not wearing masks.
Howland said they are not discouraging people from wearing masks or from practicing social distancing.
“If we were to go out and protest and say everybody where masks and do social distancing, we’d be protesting under the rules of the very people we are protesting, so we’d look pretty silly doing that,” he said.