(The Center Square) – Facebook said it removed two Michigan-based pages that repeatedly violated the platforms’ Community Standards.
Garrett Soldano, a founder of the more than 380,000-member group “Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine,” said Facebook removed the page Tuesday.
“So that lets everybody know out there know what’s at stake. Now more than ever, this just threw a tremendous amount of gasoline on the fire of my liberty," Soldano said in a Facebook video.
The first group played a vital role in organizing prior protests and state residents who were dissatisfied with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soldano created a new Facebook page – “Stand Up Michigan” – as a replacement.
“They will not silence us, folks,” Soldano said. “They will not."
Soldano accused Facebook of “wanting to keep us quiet from speaking the truth.”
Soldano hinted that one removed post was a video of him supporting Owosso barber Karl Manke, who had been cutting hair in defiance of Whitmer’s executive orders.
A Facebook spokesperson told The Center Square the social media platform removed the group after repeated posts that violated Facebook’s Community Standards.
"Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government's guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook," the spokesperson said.
Facebook removes posts that violate Community Standards policies, and each time warns the group’s administrator(s) that further violations could lead to the group’s removal, the spokesperson said.
Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine’s page removal happened days after Facebook removed the 9,200-member Michigan United For Liberty (MUFL) group after a Metro Times article showed some anti-Whitmer pages included threats against state officials.
Leaders of the latter group had sued Whitmer, challenging the two laws under which she issued executive orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Detroit Metro Times, a free weekly publication distributed throughout southeast Michigan, "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,” MUFL said in a statement.
“Michigan United for Liberty is undeterred in its mission 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.”
The removals precedes a protest scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the state Capitol.
Michigan State Police have said they will ramp up presence after protestors openly carrying firearms entered the Capitol on April 15 and watched lawmakers vote from an upper gallery.
The Michigan Capitol Commission delayed a Monday vote whether to ban open carry on Capitol grounds.
State police encouraged protestors to act peacefully.
“We’re asking the public to partner with us to ensure the Capitol remains a safe forum for everyone,” Michigan State Police Director Joe Gasper said in a statement. “While our desire is to interfere as little as possible in demonstrations, we will not allow unlawful, threatening or intimidating behavior.”