When Michigan's electors to the Electoral College meet in Lansing on Monday afternoon to confirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory at the polls, the state capitol, including legislative buildings, will be closed to the public due to security concerns, officials announced Sunday night.
Amber McCann, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R), told the Detroit Free Press that the Senate chose to close its offices on Monday "based on recommendations from law enforcement."
"The decision was not made because of anticipated protests, but based on credible threats of violence," McCann said Sunday.
State Rep. Kevin Hertel (D) tweeted that precautions were being taken "because credible threats have been made as Michigan's electors to the Electoral College will meet at the Capitol."
All House offices have been closed tomorow because credible threats have been made as Michigan’s electors to the Electoral College will meet at the Capitol. My office will monitor voicemail and are available to assist you by email at KevinHertel@House.MI.Gov
— Kevin Hertel (@RepHertel) December 13, 2020
Gideon D'Assandro, a spokesman for House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R), did not provide details about potential security risks to reporters. He told the Detroit Free Press that while the Michigan State Police (MSP) did not mandate closure of the office buildings, "House and Senate Leadership conferred with [MSP] and then made the call... to ensure everyone's safety."
Rep. Gary Eisen (R) on Monday morning was reprimanded by his Republican colleagues in the state legislature for refusing to disavow a violent disruption of the Electoral College vote at the capitol in Lansing, as The Hill reported.
During an early morning radio interview, Eisen told the program host that he could not promise that nobody would be hurt "because what we're doing today is uncharted." Though it remained unclear what Eisen was referring to, he said that "it'll be all over the news later on."
Heightened fears of possible political violence coincide with the relentless efforts of President Donald Trump and more than 100 Republican lawmakers to challenge the election results in Michigan and other key battleground states won by Biden.
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After the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday threw out Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's lawsuit—the latest in a series of failed attempts to overturn Biden's decisive victory through baseless claims of voter fraud—supporters of the lame-duck president descended on the nation's capitol over the weekend.
During the pro-Trump rally, which was countered by anti-fascist demonstrators, white supremacist vandals attacked Black churches, and at least four people were stabbed.
As Common Dreams reported on Sunday, commentators linked this weekend's street violence to a comment Trump made in September during a televised debate, when he told the far-right Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by." The president provided further encouragement to the anti-democratic protestors on Saturday, tweeting, "Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal."
This pattern has played out in Michigan throughout the course of 2020. As recently as last month, Scott Atlas, a former member of Trump's coronavirus task force, urged the state's residents to "rise up" against new public health measures implemented by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) to combat the surge in Covid-19 infections and fatalities.
Atlas' call for an uprising came just one month after the FBI foiled a right-wing plan to kidnap Whitmer and overthrow the state government, a domestic terrorist plot that many connected to Trump's incitement of anti-lockdown protests earlier in the year.
Regarding the closure of Michigan's legislative buildings on Monday, House Minority Leader-elect Donna Lasinski (D) noted that "it is a sad fact that the shameful actions by certain Republicans to smear our democratic institutions and deny the clear will of the voters has undeniably created this dangerous, hostile atmosphere."
It is a sad fact that the shameful actions by certain Republicans to smear our democratic institutions and deny the clear will of the voters has undeniably created this dangerous, hostile atmosphere.— Donna Lasinski (@DonnaLasinski) December 13, 2020
Lasinski added that a routine quadrennial process "has now become a target for threats, intimidation, and violence."
This story has been updated with news about Michigan Rep. Gary Eisen's (R) refusal on Monday to disavow a violent disruption of the Electoral College vote at the state capitol in Lansing.