Downtown Howell on Thursday could look a lot like the Michigan Capitol earlier this spring when Second Amendment activists showed up flashing their firepower and attempting to storm the floor of the legislature.
In anticipation of a rally to show support in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the black man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck, members of the Michigan for 2A Sanctuary Counties-Livingston will be on hand, with “predesignated Patriots” stationed “at key locations as designated observers,” in expectation of being called upon to assist law enforcement should it become necessary. It is expected that members of this group will be carrying weapons.
“Their goal is to protect Howell businesses from looting,” said Howell Mayor Nick Proctor. “Their presence is not helpful. There are other groups, too. Law enforcement is on top of this.”
(You can click here to read Michigan for 2A Sanctuary Counties-Livingston’s Facebook post about Thursday’s event in downtown Howell.)
It’s difficult sorting through what will or will not happen in downtown Howell tomorrow. A woman had been planning a rally to show support in the wake of the Floyd killing, but she’s delayed it. Then there was the weekend tweet by a woman calling for Howell to be the first city in Michigan to burn (you can read all about it by clicking here); that woman is currently under investigation by the state.
There are also rumblings about outside agitators heading to Howell to cause trouble.
Officials aren’t taking any chances, saying that though the planned protests were either canceled or delayed, “the potential for gatherings in the area by various organizations is likely to take place … starting at around 10 a.m.,” said the City of Howell in a release.
Downtown businesses are being asked to either close or alter their hours for the day. City and county facilities in the area will be closed.
Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy said law enforcement is “gearing up for the worst and hoping for the best.”
“Everyone I’ve talked to has a peaceful protest in mind,” Murphy said. “It’s what they think they need to do for the community.”
The problem, though, Murphy said, is that law enforcement can’t control the fringe people.
“We don’t need them to show up to mess with the people who are there for the right reasons,” he said.
“We are encouraging people to act safely,” said Mayor Proctor. “They are welcome to exercise their first amendment rights as long as they’re peaceful.”