Four Michigan county sheriffs said in a letter on Wednesday that they will not strictly enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) aggressive stay-at-home orders, emphasizing their oath to “uphold and defend the Michigan Constitution, as well as the U.S. Constitution, and to ensure that your God-given rights are not violated.”

Sheriffs of Michigan’s 101st House District, covering the counties of Manistee, Benzie, Leelanau, and Mason, spoke out against Whitmer’s stringent orders, forbidding residents’ “nonessential” visits to neighbors, friends, or relatives. The order also restricts retailers from selling items deemed “nonessential.” Those include gardening items, furniture, child car seats, and certain home improvement goods.

While the Michigan sheriffs stated that they understand Whitmer’s desire to protect the public, they “question some restrictions that she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority.”

“She has created a vague framework of emergency laws that only confuse Michigan citizens,” they wrote, noting that they will not have “strict enforcement of these orders.” Rather, they will “deal with every case as an individual situation and apply common sense in assessing the apparent violation.”

“Each of us took an oath to uphold and defend the Michigan Constitution, as well as the US Constitution, and to ensure that your God given rights are not violated,” the sheriffs wrote. “We believe that we are the last line of defense in protecting your civil liberties.”

They also emphasized the need to focus on the reopening of their counties and getting people back to work while continuing to practice common safety suggestions, like social distancing.

“We also need to be aware that this virus is deadly and that we need to continue to practice social distancing, washing of hands, wearing of masks as well as other medically recommended measures,” they wrote.

“Allowing those without paychecks back to work is imperative to the economic success and well-being of our community. We can do this in stages, especially those that work outside,” they continued.

The letter, signed by  Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, Manistee County Sheriff Ken Falk, Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel, and Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich, concluded:

Together, as a community, we will overcome this pandemic, and as Americans, we will persevere and come out even stronger than before. As sheriffs of your community we want you to know we have your back and will continue to serve the people who have entrusted us with your protection.

Mason County Sheriff, Benzie County Sheriff, Manistee County Sheriff, and Leelanau County Sheriff say they will next strictly enforce @GovWhitmer‘s Executive Orders pic.twitter.com/CewjVToFDD

— Nick Ponton (@nick_ponton) April 15, 2020

Mason County Sheriff, Benzie County Sheriff, Manistee County Sheriff, and Leelanau County Sheriff say they will next strictly enforce @GovWhitmer‘s Executive Orders pic.twitter.com/CewjVToFDD

— Nick Ponton (@nick_ponton) April 15, 2020

The letter coincides with Wednesday’s mass protest in Lansing, Michigan, that drew frustrated residents who oppose Whitmer’s aggressive actions.

In turn, Whitmer said she was “disappointed” by the demonstration in the state’s capital and suggested that protesters “endangered other people’s lives.”

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