Grand Rapids-The energy Monday night at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids, Michigan was both electric and intense! The Rally was the first in Grand Rapids since the governor’s bizarrely draconian executive orders began. The organizers, a mostly anonymous group with only a few spokespeople, kept most of the speakers for the event under wraps until they took the stage Monday night.

As with the last American Patriot Rally in Lansing, April 30th, at the capital, the organizers rallied around one singular focus. The Grand Rapids event was no different. “Our message is clear. We are here to encourage law enforcement across Michigan to uphold the Constitution, and refuse to enforce illegal executive orders,” said organizer Jason Howland, Ryan Kelley, and anyone else wearing an “all access” ID around their neck. There was a notable sense that the rally was highly organized, well thought out, and designed to get results.

“This event was proof that the people of Michigan are fed up and want to get back to work and back to being free members of this state.” said Erica A. “The unity and camaraderie were palpable among people that came from every corner of Michigan and beyond! You could feel the excitement in the air! A feeling of hope, faith and a determined outlook for the future! A determination that WE THE PEOPLE of Michigan are going to make this state a better place to live, work and continue to practice our God-given rights!”

“People were smiling, cheering and excited! You could feel the buzz from a block away.” Juli K, another organizer said.

Rally organizers publicly encouraged the open carry of firearms, which definitely made the event something to see. Michigan Liberty Militia, the well-organized and very heavily armed militia, took point as the security team with cooperation from other well-organized militia groups. The event was peaceful. No security issues arose.

The visible firepower at the American Patriot Rally was dynamic and the speaking lineup was explosive, as well! The lineup included a major Michigan legislator, a candidate for congress, a sitting county sheriff, retired marine veteran, a big-name lawyer and Bernadette Ellis Smith, who said the opening prayer. There were several other business owners and patriots who spoke. One surprise was 14-year-old, Emma Donovan, 8th grader at Forest Hills Eastern Middle School. Emma wrote a speech, marched up to the event desk and plead her case in hopes of getting to say a few words. “When a middle schooler writes a speech, and begs you to get on stage, you can’t tell her no,” said one organizer.

From the start the crowd was in a frenzy as Emma made a very compelling case. “I don’t see how the McDonalds drive through is allowed to be open, and my school is not,” she spoke confidently, “I mean I love me some chicken nuggets, but what about my education?” The crowd erupted in laughter and cheers as this young patriot stood on stage before a sea of red, white and blue.

Another surprise came as Michigan State Senate majority leader, Mike Shirkey, who had originally criticized the American Patriot Rally in Lansing, got up and spoke about how his mind was changed when he had, what he described, as a “very engaging conversation” with two of the organizers. Shirkey had referred to five men seen at the previous rally as “jackasses,” but said he had seen “no jackasses here tonight.” Shirkey began his speech leading the crowd in singing “America the Beautiful” and went on to give some very strong words on the Constitution and the Bible. One of the biggest crowd reactions came when the Majority Leader said, “By the way, I believe that, as of April 30th, all the executive orders are against the law, and I didn’t just say it today, I said it that day.”

US congressional candidate, Mike Detmer, from Michigan’s 8th district, gave a fiery speech. Mike is known for being a staunch constitutionalist, so his message was highly anticipated, and very well received. “This is far beyond a campaign for US congress. This is about saving our state, it’s about saving our country; we’re in a battle for the heart, the soul, the traditions and the freedoms of this state… and the United States of America, and I am thrilled to see all of you today!” Mike’s entire speech added to an already electric atmosphere.

Dar Leaf, Barry County Sheriff was definitely a crowd favorite. “What’s the definition of an arrest?”, He asked the crowd. “It’s basically taking away your right to free will, your right to move about. That’s an arrest. And an unlawful arrest,” he continued, “is when we do it unlawfully. So, when you are ordered to your home, are you under arrest? …yeah! By definition you are.” Rally-goers hung on the Sheriff’s every word as he explained federal, state, and local government, and went wild as he brought heavily armed men out to introduce them: “A well-regulated militia is necessary for the security of a free state.” After pausing to wait out the cheers from the audience, he continued, “Who can tell me the three functions of a militia? Most of you don’t know, because schools don’t teach it. Obviously, they’re up here right now, in case our last shield fails, this is our last home defense right here ladies and gentlemen.” as the crowd erupted, once again. Sheriff Leaf went on to explain that the militias can also form common law grand juries, saying, “We ought to look at bringing back the common law grand juries, and I’d like to see some indictments out of that!” At this point, the entire crowd was on their feet and exploded into a screaming applause. Dar Leaf is a veteran sheriff, and a constitutionalist, who loves to educate others and was beloved by the crowd.

Quotes from the Organizers

“The American Patriot Rally was civil resistance taken to a level we haven’t seen in a long, long time,” said Jason Howland, “we stand together in a moment of opportunity unlike we’ve seen in our lifetime, and we [the American Patriot team] fully intend to exploit that opportunity for the good of Michiganders and for the good of Americans.”
Mike F- “A strong team is never satisfied, and we walk by faith, not by sight”

Ruth V: “As an organizer for both of the American Patriot Rallies events, the “Sheriffs Speak Out” was the first rally I’ve ever attended in my life. To be honest, the preconceived notions that most everyone in the world has, clung to me, as well, even past my knowing how amazing God put this team of organizers together who had never known each other. “We The People” is still reverberating in every cell of my being. I never felt safer in my life. Passion in words, tone and actions reflected a deep commitment to the American spirit which this country was founded on. What God has brought together, let us all work together to shine a light on darkness and do the work.

“The unity amongst those who gathered, is inspiring. People from all backgrounds and beliefs can unite in peace, to give attention to a joint cause and jointly control a narrative with their own pens. “We The People” are UNITED!” -Kristen M

Ryan Kelley was asked the question most of the country wants to know the answer to: “As the American Patriot Rally seems to be setting the tone for what will happen in cities and states around the country and even around the world, what is next for you guys?” Ryan simply answered, “I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Note from the author:

As I covered this event, I was struck by the genuine team atmosphere. That is what caused me to gather these quotes from the organizers…and I was glad that I did. Because the quotes make it easy to see why an event that would typically get nothing but bad press, is actually getting a fair shake. After getting to know these fine American patriots, I can see why middle-class American moms are calling the American Patriot Rally, with militia members armed to the teeth and over a third of the crowd openly carrying firearms, the “safest place they could be”. It is obvious. The event was done out of a passionate love for American Freedom, with a true spirit of American Patriotism. A love like that covers fear and through that love, fear is destroyed.

-A. Closer

American Patriot Press