State Police probe incident with demonstrator, lawmaker

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Michigan State Police are investigating a recent incident outside the state Capitol involving a demonstrator and Rep. Dave Pagel, who acknowledged he confronted a man who had shouted “vile things you shouldn’t say in public” but said the altercation did not get physical.

A complainant called 911 Wednesday shortly after 4 p.m. and MSP State Properties Security Officers were dispatched to respond, said spokeswoman Shanon Banner. No arrests were made and no charges have been filed, she said.

Banner declined to provide further details due to the ongoing investigation.

Pagel told The Detroit News he was leaving the Capitol after Wednesday’s session when a man began shouting at him. The two-term Republican from Oronoko Township in Berrien County said he approached the man to respond, a decision he now regrets.

“He had a bullhorn and shoved that in my face and was yelling at me. Nothing happened, though; there was no physical incident or anything, so I don’t expect anything to come of it,” Pagel said. “I probably should have just walked away and not said anything to the guy.”

While it is not immediately clear what allegations the demonstrator made to prompt the police investigation, Pagel said the man is “making some claims about it, apparently, that there’s more to it, and there really isn’t.”

Pagel said he was part of a group that walked by the same demonstrator earlier in the day, claiming the man was “swearing at us profusely, saying incredible things through the bullhorn.”

“We’re all used to protesters yelling at us and stuff, but when they get that vile in their language, it seems like that shouldn’t be allowed,” Pagel said. “Maybe I’m wrong.”

A Detroit News reporter observed two demonstrators with bullhorns circling the state Capitol earlier Wednesday making allegations about another legislator. At one point, a man carrying what appeared to be a “Don’t tread on me” flag turned his bullhorn toward the building and said he hopes the legislator “burns in hell for what you’ve done to our country.”

joosting@detroitnews.com