WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump, who has called to "liberate" states currently in lockdown over the coronavirus, expressed support Friday for armed protesters who packed the Michigan statehouse this week.
"The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire," Trump said in a reference to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. "These are very good people, but they are angry."
He added: "They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them."
Critics, some tweeting pictures of men with rifles posted near the door of the Michigan governor's office, said it may be difficult to compromise with people carrying weapons.
"At the point of a gun? Hell no," tweeted Democratic strategist Jim Manley.
The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.
- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 1, 2020
Protesters who entered the Michigan statehouse demanded that Whitmer end the lockdown immediately, chanting "let us work."
Whitmer, whose state has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus, said opening up Michigan at this time will only increase the number of cases and deaths.
Trump, who has attacked Whitmer previously, has been encouraging protesters in Michigan and elsewhere for weeks, at one point urging them to "liberate" their states. His list of states to be liberated included Michigan.
More: Trump to Mike Pence: 'Don't call the woman in Michigan,' aka Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
After the liberate tweets, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told ABC News that it was dangerous to "have a president of the United States basically encourage insubordination, to encourage illegal activity."
Historian Joshua Zeitz, noting he once worked in a governor's office in New Jersey, said protesters with guns should not be accorded the kind of respect advocated by Trump.
"You make an appointment to see the governor or staff," Zeitz tweeted. "You don't storm the State House with assault rifles and barricade the door to the Gov's office. Doing so makes you a thug and a terorrist, not a 'good person.'"
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Trump urges Michigan governor to talk to armed protesters