A Michigan barber intends to continue defying the state’s lockdown order and giving haircuts despite officials revoking his professional license.
Karl Manke, a 77-year-old barber in Owosso, returned to work on May 4 after the state government forced him to close his shop on March 21. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has extended the state shutdown order through May 28, but Manke has refused close his business again despite citations from the police and the threat of 90 days in jail and a $500 fine for violating the emergency order.
“I’m not closing up; I’m not caving in to this,” Manke told The New York Times on Wednesday after the state voided his professional license to be a barber. “I’m not a rabble-rouser and I’m not a scofflaw. I’m a small-town barber. I just want to make my living.”
People have driven from over 100 miles away to support his business, while Whitmer is having increasing amounts of trouble getting local police to enforce her dictate. In Shiawassee County, where Owosso is located, Sheriff Brian BeGole has said he will not enforce Whitmer’s lockdown order while the Michigan Supreme Court weighs the orders legality.
“I have decided, within my authority, that our office cannot and will not divert our primary resources and efforts towards enforcement of the Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders,” BeGole said in a letter Monday, according to the Detroit Free Press.
State Attorney General Dana Nessel petitioned to get a temporary restraining order against Manke, but Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart denied the request. State officials then suspended Manke’s license to operate, though it remains unclear how the attorney general intends to enforce the suspension.
Manke reopened “Manke’s Beauty & Barber Shop” after abiding by the emergency order for over a month because his livelihood would have disappeared if he hadn’t. The hairdresser said he had to return to work or lose his business and people could gauge the risk of getting a haircut for themselves. He has instituted social distancing rules in his shop.
“I can … run my business how I feel I should run it,” Manke said shortly after reopening. “To tell you the truth, I am scared but I didn’t really have any choice. I need to work through that fear and open up.”
GOP leaders in the state legislature have filed a lawsuit against Whitmer over her shutdown extension, which she unilaterally implemented after the legislature declined to give her approval. The state supreme court will hear oral arguments in the case on May 15.
The governor’s “recent actions seize lawmaking power from the Legislature in service of a new executive-domineered legal regime,” the GOP-led lawsuit says, according to The Detroit News. “In doing so, Defendant takes control of matters at the core of the Legislature’s constitutional mandate. And she does so under no discernible standards or time limits, save vague insistences that an ‘emergency’ requires them.”
Whitmer’s legal team lashed out at the lawsuit in a brief filed on Tuesday, accusing the state legislature of attempting to steal her power and authority as the executive.
“Having lost that political gamble, they are doubling down on this lawsuit,” the filing says. “But this is more than a political bluff for a dissatisfied coequal branch of government holding a losing hand under applicable law … It is a power grab cloaked in the fineries of unfounded legal reasoning.”
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