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Security forcibly removes protesters from Michigan House gallery

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Protesters say they were forcibly and improperly removed from the Michigan House chamber Wednesday morning after they tried to sit in the gallery above the House floor.

The three protesters were part of a larger group at the Capitol to demonstrate against stay-at-home restrictions in place to stem the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, both the House and Senate were in session as lawmakers continue to consider whether to extend Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's emergency declaration.

House security officers are seen removing a protester from the gallery above the Michigan House floor on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.

Michelle Gregoire, one of the three protesters who were in the gallery, said the group was originally in the Senate chamber and then, moved to the House. House security eventually told them they had to leave the gallery, Gregoire said, and watch the session in the Speaker's Library.

A spokesman for the House Republicans didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident.

Multiple videos posted online (CAUTION: Obscene language) show House security officers physically removing one of the three protesters. That protester had a "panic attack," her friends said. She left the Capitol grounds in an ambulance, they said.

"You are not allowed to touch me," one of the protesters, named Wendy, yelled at the security officers as they removed her, according to a video posted online by the protesters.

In addition, Gregoire alleged that she was grabbed by the collar and dragged out of the House chamber.

"He grabbed my phone on the way out and literally threw it and threw me out of the doors," she said of a security guard. "I landed on my elbow."

Two protesters talk with a Michigan State Police trooper after they say they were forcibly removed from the Michigan House gallery.

Gregoire was meeting with State Police troopers outside the Capitol after the incident.

"I am pressing charges," she said. "You cannot put your hands on people."

A third protester, Audra Johnson of Grand Rapids, said she she was complying with the security officers' orders and was still thrown "against the door."

cmauger@detroitnews.com