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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer slammed the protesters who gathered inside the state's Capitol building on Thursday to demand she rescind her stay-at-home orders, saying they represented the "worst racism and awful parts" of U.S. history.
"There were swastikas and Confederate flags and nooses and people with assault rifles," Whitmer said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "Some of the outrageousnesses of what happened at our capitol depicted some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history in this country."
The Michigan governor, however, added that those people represented a small portion of the demonstrators at the state capital and that, for the most part, the protest was peaceful.
"When you think about the fact that this is a state of almost 10 million people, the vast majority of whom are doing the right thing," she added, "the behavior you've seen in all of the clips is not representative of who we are in Michigan."
Holding American flags and handmade signs – and with some carrying firearms -- the demonstrators in Lansing first congregated shoulder-to-shoulder on Thursday outside before demanding to be let inside the building as lawmakers were poised to debate an extension of an emergency and disaster declaration. Some chanted "Let us in," The Detroit News reported.
State Sen. Dayna Polehanki, a Democrat, tweeted a photo of what she described as armed demonstrators yelling above her. She said some of her colleagues were wearing "bullet proof vests" inside the House chamber.
"Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today. #mileg," she posted.
Thursday's rally came as some people living in Michigan have continued to demand Whitmer roll back her stay-at-home order in an effort to reopen the state's economy and allow residents to resume daily activities.
Last week, she extended the mandate through May 15, but loosened some restrictions beginning Friday. Residents will be allowed to travel between residences, but it will be "strongly discouraged."
Whitmer said she would not be intimidated by political pressure to ease up her state’s stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The fact of the matter is we are in the global pandemic. This is not something we negotiate ourselves out of and is a political matter; this is a public health crisis that has taken the lives of almost 70,000 Americans,” she said.
“Whether you agree with me or not, I'm working to protect your life if you live in the state of Michigan,” Whitmer added.
President Trump has come out in support of the protesters, calling them “very good people” in a tweet on Friday.
“The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal,” Trump added.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.