LAGRANGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — The state Attorney General’s Office has agreed to handle the prosecution of any crimes stemming from a large party on a southwestern Michigan lake in which hundreds of people ignored state orders to wear masks or socially distance. The Cass County Prosecutor’s Office asked the Attorney General’s Office to appoint a special prosecutor after a viral video showed hundreds of people in swimsuits Saturday gathered at Diamond Lake, near Cassopolis in Cass County. The prosecutor’s office says it asked for the review because of a conflict of interest stemming from a longtime affiliation with one of the lake associations.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer commented once again Thursday on the viral video of a party at Cass County’s Diamond Lake sandbar during her virtual COVID-19 update.
A video went viral over the weekend showing hundreds of people partying at the Diamond Lake sandbar, not appearing to adhere to social distancing guidelines or wearing face masks.
Whitmer says the video, along with an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Michigan, is forcing state officials to take another look at the mask mandate which currently requires masks be worn in an enclosed public space.
Whitmer says incidents like the Diamond Lake 4th of July party have officials considering making the current mask mandate more strict. Whitmer says she wants Michigan to avoid becoming like Florida where COVID-19 cases are surging.
“Youth will not protect you from carrying and spreading this virus to your friends and family and neighbors," she says. "We’ve got to all work together to protect one another and that means wearing a mask.”
Whitmer said one in five confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan is among people between the ages of 25 and 34.
A video showing hundreds of people partying at the Diamond Lake Sandbar in Michigan on the Fourth of July despite the pandemic went viral over the weekend. Now Cass County officials are looking to take action against the party organizers.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office requested a special prosecutor to review for any possible violations that may have occurred during the party.
Sheriff Richard Behnke says he wants the special prosecutor to look at possible trespassing and damage to property, but he’s not as concerned about crowd size.
“By no means am I looking towards the Governor’s orders or anything like that," he said. "I don’t think there was any violations there.”
The event gained attention due to many partygoers in the video not appearing to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
The Cass County prosecutor's office filed a request for a special prosecutor with the Attorney General's office this week.