TUESDAY, Jan. 12 — Lansing Mayor Andy Schor requested Tuesday a National Guard presence amid fears of armed and violent protests in capitals nationwide as the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris approaches in Washington.
City Council President Peter Spadafore encouraged Schor in a letter:
“Because we are living in anything but normal times and the jurisdictional quagmire of downtown presents its own challenges, I am asking you to work with the Lansing Police Department, the Michigan State Police, and Ingham County to request from Governor Gretchen Whitmer that the Michigan National Guard be deployed to help ensure that any First Amendment activities remain peaceful and that our residents are safe.”
Schor soon made the request to the governor for the National Guard "to assist Lansing Police if a violent disturbance in the downtown area surrounding the Capitol building occurs,” Schor announced. “I am a firm believer in the First Amendment right to protest at our state Capitol but let me be clear: This does not mean that anyone has a right to incite violence or destruction in Lansing’s downtown.”
Sunday is seen as likely to be the most active day for protests.
Whitmer would have to formally authorize the deployment. A Whitmer spokesman said the situation was being “monitored closely” to ensure “necessary security measures” are in place.
Council members Adam Hussain, Patricia Spitzley, Jeremy Garza and Brandon Betz also said Tuesday they supported having the National Guard.
“Under normal circumstances, I would be very uncomfortable with that,” Spitzley said. “But after what happened at the Capitol, I think we are better off with them.”
Said Garza, “I would hate to have some serious call on one side of town while our officers are tied up downtown and then we have fires in different parts of the city."
Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wrigglesworth said he also supports having the Guard.
“We will have a contingent of deputies assisting on Sunday,” Wriggelsworth said.
Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia Spokesman Michael Lackomar said his group will attend protests in Lansing on Sunday. He also said his group welcomes the National Guard.
“They are often better trained and will have more restricted rules of engagement,” he said.
The size and scope of potential protests in Lansing is difficult to ascertain. Right-wing extremists have found themselves banned from many social media outlets in the last several months. Many have moved to encrypted communications. Even Lackomar, who intends on attending, said he hasn’t been able to gauge how many people will show for protests in the city.