A member of the White House coronavirus task force encouraged people in Michigan on Sunday to "rise up" against closures enacted by the state's governor in the hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
On Sunday evening, hours after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced COVID-19 policies that included the suspension of in-person learning at some schools, in-person dining at restaurants and the temporary closure of movie theaters, Dr. Scott Atlas encouraged people to resist the new measures.
"The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept," Atlas tweeted.
The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp https://t.co/8QKBszgKTM
— Scott W. Atlas (@SWAtlasHoover) November 15, 2020
Atlas later clarified that he would "never" endorse or incite violence and added that Americans should "contact their governors" to express how they feel about implementing lockdown measures.
Whitmer, a Democrat, has faced sharp criticism from Republicans regarding her policies in preventing the spread of COVID-19. In the spring, Michigan was the site of several protests against virus-related shutdowns — one of which saw armed protesters storm the state capitol.
In October, federal and state law enforcement reported that they had thwarted a militia group's alleged plan to kidnap Whitmer. The group's plan was allegedly motivated by Whitmer's shutdown orders.
Hey. I NEVER was talking at all about violence. People vote, people peacefully protest. NEVER would I endorse or incite violence. NEVER!! https://t.co/LljvwMvjDV
— Scott W. Atlas (@SWAtlasHoover) November 16, 2020
Atlas, a neuroradiologist and fellow at the Hoover Institution — a conservative think tank at Stanford University — is a member of the White House coronavirus task force who reportedly has influence over President Donald Trump. In October, Twitter removed a tweet in which Atlas made the false claim that masks do not prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Atlas also apologized earlier this month for conducting an interview with Russian state broadcaster RT in which he made several dubious claims about COVID-19.