Dozens of armed protesters in MAGA gear chanted “Stop the Steal!” outside Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s home on Saturday night — an escalation to the torrent of threats she and other state election officials have received since the election early last month.
In a statement, Benson said she had just finished decorating her Detroit home for Christmas with her 4-year-old son and the two were about to settle down to watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” when she became aware of people shouting obscenities through bullhorns outside.
The mob outside chanted “Stop the steal,” the slogan galvanizing pro-Trump conspiracy theorists who continue to claim, without evidence, that the 2020 election was rigged against President Donald Trump. Even though the transition process is already underway and Joe Biden will take office in January, Trump and allies keep peddling baseless claims about rampant voter fraud, with Trump saying at a Georgia rally Saturday, “We will still win it.”
Judging by the incident outside Benson’s residence in Detroit, Trump’s messaging continues to resonate with his most ardent supporters.
“The demands made outside my home were unambiguous, loud and threatening. They targeted me in my role as Michigan’s Chief Election Officer,” Benson wrote in a statement on Sunday. “The actions of these latest protestors are an extension of the noise and clouded efforts to spread false information about the security and accuracy of our elections that we’ve all endured in the month since the polls closed on November 3.
In the video, a security guard appears to be stationed on Benson’s doorstep. Part of the protest was broadcast live earlier on, the Detroit Free Press reported: participants wore MAGA paraphernalia and waved American flags.
But the scene that unfolded outside Benson’s home on Saturday was nothing new by the standards of 2020 — especially in Michigan.
Anti-government activity has simmered in that state for decades, but this year those ideological undercurrents in Michigan materialized into visible, heavily-armed protests. In Spring, Michigan became a hub for the anti-lockdown movement. At one point, heavily armed demonstrators swarmed the Capitol in Lansing to demand Gov. Whitmer, a Democrat, rescind measures that were designed to curb the spread of coronavirus. Some of the men involved in that protest were later arrested and charged for allegedly conspiring with militiamen to kidnap Whitmer from her home. They’d also allegedly discussed holding televised executions of state officials, or barricading government buildings and setting them on fire.
There were widespread fears about potential voter intimidation at the polls in Michigan leading up to the election, which led Benson to issue a directive barring voters from bringing guns from polling stations. This set off a legal fight, which Benson ultimately lost. The feared violence on election day never materialized, but the deep divisions in the state made it ripe for misinformation and conspiracies about the outcome of the election to take hold.
Over a thousand Trump supporters flocked to the Michigan Capitol the day that Biden was declared the winner to make baseless claims about rigged elections. A smaller crowd returned the following day, including some protesters with AR-style rifles. And week later, over 10,000 pro-Trump protesters flooded the streets of Washington, D.C., some of whom clashed violently with counterprotesters.
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign, on its last legs after dozens of election-challenge losses in court, has continued to fan the flames of outrage where it can. Last week, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani came before Michigan’s House Oversight Committee for a bizarre spectacle in which he trotted out a series of questionable witnesses to peddle debunked claims about rampant voter fraud, faulty voting machines and election misconduct.