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Photos of COVID-19 victims posted near Michigan Capitol protest

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Photographs of COVID-19 victims were posted near the Capitol grounds ahead of a Thursday protest against government restrictions to combat the virus.

The portraits — some of which featured Michigan residents — hung Thursday morning on street signs near the Capitol. The demonstration was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

A photo of Ardis Drabik, a Michigan resident who reportedly died with COVID-19, is pictured in downtown Lansing ahead of a protest against restrictions to stem the spread of the virus on Thursday, May 14, 2020.

About 10 photos were posted along Allegan Street, which runs south of the Capitol building and along Capitol Avenue, which runs east of the building.

One image featured Lester Shindler, a 92-year-old Waterford resident who died because of complications from COVID-19 in April, according to The Jewish News and The Dorfman Chapel.

Another image was of Ardis Drabik, a 97-year-old Norton Shores resident, who died after a fight with coronavirus, according to the Muskegon Chronicle.

Thursday's protest is expected to be the third large demonstration against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home restrictions in Michigan, which critics believe go too far. The previous events garnered national attention.

Portraits of individuals who died with COVID-19 hang near the Michigan Capitol on Thursday, May 14, 2020, ahead of a protest against restrictions that aim to stem the spread of the virus.

On April 30, hundreds of people gathered outside the Capitol before heading inside. They chanted, "Let us in" outside the House chamber as lawmakers met, and some carried firearms inside the building, setting off a debate over whether guns should continue to be allowed in the Capitol building.

According to a press release before the event, Michigan United for Liberty, which organized the protest, said it expects "demonstrators to be the peaceful, law-abiding citizens that we are."

The group's purpose "is to convey to our lawmakers, state officials and the public that the people of Michigan will passionately defend our freedom and prosperity," Michigan United for Liberty said in a Wednesday statement. 

Whitmer has criticized the protests, saying the large gatherings could spread the virus, which has been linked to 4,714 deaths in Michigan.

"The fact of the matter is these protests, in a perverse way, make it likelier that we are going to have to stay in a stay-home posture," Whitmer said during an appearance on "The View" Wednesday. "The whole point of them, supposedly, is that they don’t want to be doing that.”

cmauger@detroitnews.com