Armed crowd gathers outside Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s home to protest unsubstantiated election fraud

Sunday, December 6, 2020 - 8:22pm

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Alec Cohen/Daily

Several dozen armed protesters gathered outside the home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson Saturday night to show their displeasure with the certification of the Nov. 3 election. Since Joe Biden’s win in the state, supporters of President Donald Trump have questioned the security and accuracy of the election without evidence.

The protestors, who carried American flags and Trump paraphenalia, arrived at Benson’s home shortly before 10 p.m. The group used bullhorns to shout “stop the steal” while calling for a forensic audit of the election. The protest was live streamed on Facebook.

Benson, who is Michigan’s chief election officer, responded to the protests that disrupted her family’s evening in a press release Sunday. 

“I have always been an energetic advocate for the right and importance of peaceful protest as enshrined in the United States Constitution,” Benson said. “However there is a line crossed when gatherings are done with the primary purpose of intimidation of public officials who are carrying out the oath of office they solemnly took as elected officials.”

In the press release, Benson said the armed protestors who stood outside her home are the latest effort to spread misinformation about the integrity and results of the elections.

Through blatantly false press releases, purely political legislative hearings, bogus legal claims and so called ‘affidavits’ that fail to allege any clear or cogent evidence of wrongdoing, those unhappy with the results of this election have perpetuated an unprecedented, dangerous, egregious campaign to erode the public’s confidence in the results of one of the most secure, accessible and transparent elections in our state’s history,” Benson said.

Since Nov. 3, Trump has made a number of baseless allegations of voter fraud in Michigan, with multiple lawsuits to discard votes being withdrawn or thrown out due to a lack of evidence. In a Michigan House Oversight Committee meeting Wednesday, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani promoted conspiracy theories, saying Democrats stole the election and asking legislators to defy the certified election results.

Benson said the protesters’ loud and obscene threats were an attempt to silence the Michigan voters she works to protect. 

“Through threats of violence, intimidation and bullying, the armed people outside my home and their political allies seek to undermine and silence the will and voices of every voter in this state, no matter who they voted for,” Benson said. “Their goal is to overturn and upend the results of an election that are clear and unequivocal, and that 5.5 million Michigan citizens participated in.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy issued a joint statement Sunday regarding the protests outside of Benson’s home. In it, they condemned the intimidatory tactics on the part of protestors.

“They shouted baseless conspiracy theories about the election, and in videos uploaded to social media, at least one individual could be heard shouting ‘you’re murderers’ within earshot of her child’s bedroom,” Nessel and Worthy wrote. “This mob-like behavior is an affront to basic morality and decency. In a civil society, there are many ways to peaceably assemble and demonstrate.”

In the statement, Nessel and Worthy advised citizens to report concerns about the election to Benson’s office, not her private residence. 

“Anyone can air legitimate grievances to Secretary Benson’s office through civil and democratic means, but terrorizing children and families at their own homes is not activism,” they said. “This disturbing behavior masquerading as protest should be called out for what it is and roundly condemned by citizens and public officials alike.”

Benson assured Michigan citizens in her statement that despite the ongoing efforts to discredit democratic processes, she would continue to protect the will of voters.

“Nothing about the incessant and graphic threats made outside my home, or those that flood my social media accounts, will deter me, my team, or the more than 1,600 election administrators across the state of Michigan from doing our jobs,” Benson wrote. “I will continue to guard every citizen’s vote because no matter how one voted or who they voted for, where they live, or what they look like, their vote is the lifeblood of our democracy.”

Daily Staff Reporter Hannah Mackay can be reached at mackayh@umich.edu


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