Drivers jammed into Michigan's capital and surrounded the state Capitol in a protest against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order that featured neither face masks nor social distancing, but rather the honking of horns that could be heard inside.
The collision between a public health battle and a political one, which played out for more than five hours on Wednesday, underscores the boiling tensions of a restless nation struggling with the wisdom of reopening the economy before the deadly pandemic subsides.
Whitmer could hardly ignore the scene, considering the honking horns, raucous jeers and blaring music became background noise for her video conference call with health care workers.
"Right outside my office right now, people have come to town who are not wearing masks, they are not observing the six-foot distance," Whitmer said. "Give me some advice. How can I magnify what you're seeing and what you're experiencing?"
CNN's Jeff Zeleny reported on the gathering in Michigan, which he called a "protest-by-parade."
"The protest was large, but the thing that struck me the most is that it went on and on, with honking horns, blaring music and raucous jeers for more than five hours. It was protest-by-parade — definitely not organic, considering it was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, but the anger was absolutely real. It had the feel of a Trump rally from 2016 and a Tea Party rally from 2010 — back at a time when rallies were the norm," Zeleny said. "What was striking was dozens upon dozens of people who stood on steps of the Capitol and the surrounding sidewalk, defying not only the strict stay-at-home orders, but also blatantly ignoring basic medical common sense."
Zeleny acknowledged the economic pain Michigan is feeling with one-quarter of the state's eligible workforce seeking some type of unemployment help. Yet in the end, the protest "seemed oddly discordant on a day that the state's death toll hovered around 2,000 people," he said.
Michigan currently has 29,263 coronavirus cases and 2,093 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.