April 24, 2020 / 2:40 PM / a month ago

False claim: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer authorizes “lethal force” to maintain state lockdown

Social media users are circulating an article with a headline that reads, “Whitmer authorizes lethal force to maintain state lockdown” ( here ). It refers to Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D).

The claim comes amid a series of demonstrations against coronavirus-related lockdowns across key electoral battleground states like Michigan ( here ).

The article has been flagged multiple times as part of Facebook’s efforts to curb misinformation related to the new coronavirus.

The claim is false. It stems from a satirical article on the website The People’s Cube. The article lists the author as “Chedoh, Kommissar of Viral Infections, Hero of Change, Prophet of the Future Truth”. Despite these red flags, some social media users believe the story is authentic, making comments like “You need to vote her out!” and “The Power all Democrats want”.

On March 24, Whitmer passed an executive order suspending non-essential activities across the state ( here ). On April 13, Whitmer issued another executive order to extend the lockdown measures until April 30 ( here ). Neither of the orders specified enforcement conditions aside from mentioning that, “Consistent with MCL 10.33 and MCL 30.405(3), a willful violation of this order is a misdemeanor”. Michigan is one of 42 states where governors have ordered residents to remain indoors except for necessary outings like grocery shopping or doctor’s visits, while closing schools, universities and non-essential businesses.

The move sparked protests in the state. On April 15, thousands of demonstrators in cars with horns honking thronged around Michigan’s state Capitol, some chanting “lock her up,” to protest against stay-at-home orders ( here ). The crowd included militia members and individuals carrying assault-style rifles and other guns, a reflection of Michigan’s “open-carry” firearms laws.

On April 17, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to express his support for the anti-lockdown demonstrations, writing “Liberate Michigan!” in capital letters ( here ).

A Reuters review of the organizers of last week’s Michigan rally against Whitmer’s stay-at-home order showed they are involved in the Republican president’s re-election effort ( here ).

Michigan is one of the states hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 33,000 cases confirmed as of April 24 ( here ).

VERDICT

False: Michigan Governor Whitmer has not authorized “lethal force” to maintain lockdown measures meant to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. This claim comes from a satirical article.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work here .

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