Facebook has shut down two of the Michigan shutdown protest groups.
“Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine” and “Michigan United for Liberty” were Facebook groups created as a result of the Michigan lockdowns. According to The Center Square, Facebook indicated that both groups were found to have “violated the platform[’s] Community Standards,” and were shut down.
“Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine,” co-founded by Garrett Soldano and Kevin Skinner, amassed “more than 380,000 members” before Facebook shut it down. Soldano, in a video about the incident, said “the group basically got taken down for that live news feed that I did at Karl the barber’s shop.”
The 77-year-old barber, Karl Manke, whose business was the focus of the video that Soldano said got his Facebook group shut down, re-opened against the governor’s orders.
Manke re-opened after he went “six weeks without a paycheck with no money coming in,” saying, “I’ve never looked for handouts. I don’t even know what they are. I had somebody call me and say why don’t you get on food stamps. I don’t want to get on food stamps. I want to work.” Though a judge ruled in his favor, Manke has since had his operating license suspended in a further effort by the Michigan government to shut him down.
In a video, Manke said he expects at some point that he will be dragged out of his shop in handcuffs, like Texas salon owner Shelley Luther was. He also stated that he will not shut down “until Jesus comes.”
After “Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine” was shut down, Soldano and Skinner created a non-profit group, Stand Up Michigan, along with a new Facebook group with the same name that has amassed over 36,000 members since its launch.
Another Facebook group, “Michigan United for Liberty” (MUFL), was also recently shut down by Facebook. At the time of shutdown, it had approximately “9,200” members, according to The Center Square.
“Michigan United for Liberty’s” mission was “to unite the people of Michigan to engage in lawful political activity to end the unlawful, willful destruction of our state under the incompetent leadership of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.” According to the group, the mission of Stand Up Michigan, the replacement for “Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine,” is to “Equip and empower We The People to stand up for sacred values, citizen rights and constitutional freedoms.” Its vision is to “Reclaim and defend the rights and liberties of We The People of Michigan.”
The Detroit Metro Times, a “free weekly publication distributed throughout southeast Michigan,” in a piece headlined "Gov. Whitmer becomes target of dozens of threats on private Facebook groups ahead of armed rally in Lansing" said that it "gained access" to the group "that can only be seen by approved members" and ultimately contacted Facebook about what it found. The platform later "removed" MUFL, according to Metro Times. Facebook reportedly determined that the group had violated “the company’s policy against inciting violence,” and also that it had “encourage[d] people to defy social-distancing measures.”
In a statement about the removal, MUFL stated the newspaper that made the report had “cited no specific statement on the group’s page, and instead, assembled a collection of posts from other unaffiliated individuals for the purpose of smearing Michigan United for Liberty and the broader movement to re-open Michigan as a whole.”