What was billed as a possibly violent gathering outside the Michigan Capitol Sunday ended up a showing of, at most, roughly 20 protesters, some of whom associated themselves with extremist movements like the Boogaloo Boys.
Those who did show up to the Capitol were far outnumbered by police and National Guard members who early in the morning closed off the block around the building to traffic and maintained a visible on-foot presence throughout the day.
Department of State Police spokesperson Shanon Banner said the largest number of protesters State Police saw throughout the day was 20 and that the “overwhelming majority of non-law enforcement present are media.”
Elsewhere in the nation – as protests were initially reported to be planned at all 50 state capitols, and in the District of Columbia – it was much the same, with only a small showing of protestors and counter-protestors showing up, their numbers being dwarfed by members of law enforcement and the media. After the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, law enforcement reported considerable online chatter of planned demonstrations to take place Sunday at state capitols.
Ms. Banner declined to speculate on the reason for the protest’s minuscule turnout. In the days leading up to Sunday, the gathering was originally publicized as being a potentially dangerous showing of violence and extremism. Instead, the day was punctuated by people in tactical gear mulling about the Capitol lawn as a State Police helicopter intermittently circled the area.
Of those who were in attendance, one man identified himself as a member of the Boogaloo movement – giving reporters the fake name of Duncan Lemp, a far-right extremist killed by police last March.
There was definitely more of a police/media presence at the Capitol today than protestors. Most of those who had come to protest have since left, and police anticipate that at most there were 20 protestors in attendance (with the rest being media and spectators). pic.twitter.com/4d7WoBH2IcJordyn Hermani (@JordynHermani) January 17, 2021
Lansing Mayor Andy Schor, in a briefing with reporters later Sunday afternoon alongside Lansing Police Department Chief Daryl Green and U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin , said that there were no arrests and no acts of violence Sunday.
Mr. Green said in total, law enforcement and press included, he believed there were about 150 people present at the Capitol. His estimate of protestors present was closer to 75. He added that police would remain “in a high state of awareness and preparedness” in the city through Inauguration Day on January 20.
“I think we are prepared, we have adjusted, and made sure we’re nimble,” he said. “Our officers will be out and about and visible – and visible for the remainder of the city to see us. We’re concerned about the entire week, not just today. … We’ll continue to coordinate with our partners, to make sure we’re safe, here, in the city moving forward.”