LANSING, Sept. 29, 2021 — Last week, state Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt) introduced House Bill 5328, which would allow signs to be brought into the Michigan State Capitol building. Signs have been banned in the Capitol since the “Right to Work” protests in 2012. The stated reason for this ban was to protect the Capitol building from damage and to protect staff, legislators and visitors from signs and the sticks that hold them.
“No one who was in the building on April 30, 2020, will ever forget the heavily armed ‘protesters’ who crowded the Capitol in opposition to the ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order,” Hope said. “Common sense and common experience indicate that a semi-automatic weapon poses a greater threat to our historic Capitol and the humans inside it than a sign. I would take a paper cut over a gunshot wound any day.”
HB 5328 would lift the ban and allow the public to fully exercise their First Amendment rights while visiting the Capitol. This is a re-introduction of House Bill 5865 of 2020, which Rep. Hope introduced in response to the heavily armed individuals who demonstrated in the Michigan State Capitol building on April 30, 2020. Unfortunately, HB 5865 did not receive a hearing or vote.
“Our democracy was founded on the principle that people have the right to oppose and speak out against government policies, and denying people the right to bring signs into the Michigan Capitol building violates that core principle,” said Merissa Kovach, policy strategist for the ACLU of Michigan. “We urge lawmakers to end this ban.”
“Carrying a sign into the Capitol is protected by our First Amendment right to free speech,” Hope said. “By allowing guns in the Capitol, but not signs, we are telling the people of Michigan that we value one part of the Bill of Rights over another. It’s past time to get rid of this ill-conceived ban.”