Upset with COVID orders, Michigan sheriff says he's 'done with unconstitutional b-------'

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

The Clare County sheriff on Thursday took to Facebook to decry what he sees as inconsistencies in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders that granted freedoms to some regions and industries but restrictions on others posing a similar or lower risk for spreading the coronavirus. 

Sheriff John Wilson in a Facebook post Thursday told state officials to "stay in LANSING, and we will do what we will in FREE MICHIGAN!!"

"YUP. I said it. I'm done with unconstitutional b------ from the SWAMP!" Wilson wrote on his private Facebook page according to a screenshot. 

John S. Wilson

Whitmer's office did not immediately answer an email seeking comment. 

Wilson said Friday he regretted the language used in the statement, but stood by his frustrations over the executive orders, which he said lumped rural areas like Clare County in regions with cities like Grand Rapids.

Clare County has added 19 cases in the last two weeks, bringing its total from 34 to 53.

"They shouldn’t be looped in with metropolitan areas," Wilson said. 

The Thursday Facebook post, the sheriff said, was in response to Whitmer's two Wednesday executive orders that opened Detroit casinos at 15% capacity while a Clare County youth livestock auction was nearly cancelled because of ongoing restrictions. 

"I’d love to have 15% capacity in the T-barn, but they won’t be able to," Wilson said of the large barn where livestock will be stored during the auction. "We have a big farming community here, and these kids look forward to doing this all year."

The Clare County Junior Livestock Association exposition and auction will be held outdoors next week after officials spent weeks trying to figure out how to still hold the event and remain in compliance with changing executive orders.

The auction will take place Thursday, but it will be outdoors and capped at 100 people, Wilson said. Livestock will be stored in a large barn on the fairgrounds and the kids will be allowed inside to tend to the livestock in small groups. 

The rules seem unnecessarily strict since Detroit's three casinos will be allowed to reopen at 15% capacity on Monday and that other events — such as a gun and knife show — could be held in the same barn with looser capacity restrictions because they're considered retail, Wilson said.

"What’s the difference?" the sheriff said. "It kind of contradicts itself.”

On Wednesday, the governor issued the order opening Detroit's three casinos after a more than four-month closure. Tribal casinos had already restarted operations since they're run by sovereign nations not subject to the governor's orders but are regulated by federal law.

"Casinos have been operating safely across most of the country and in tribal areas in Michigan and should be able to do so in the Detroit region as well," Whitmer wrote in her order.

Despite his frustration with the orders, Wilson said his deputies aren't shirking the governor's orders and are focused on educating residents regarding the various mandates. 

"Let me also clarify that I"m not telling people not to use precautions," Wilson wrote Thursday. "We need to stop the spread of this virus."