The Michigan Militia says the police will not be allowed to arrest 77-year-old Owosso, Mich., barber, Karl Manke, who has defied Governor Whitmer’s orders that all non-essential businesses stay closed. Friday night, Michigan State Police delivered a health protection order from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office ordering that Manke close his doors.
A local Fox affiliate spoke to Daniel Brewer, one of the militia members standing up for the barber’s right to work. “Yesterday six troopers came in to enforce the governor’s order or to issue a cease or desist order so we are here to make sure he doesn’t get arrested. We’re willing to stand in front of that door and block the entrance so the police will have no entry there today.”
As relationships heat up between overreaching government agents and protesters who want to open the economy, people like Manke are being completely let down by the system that claims to want to help them, leading to more anger and outrage than government officials are ready to handle. Manke obeyed the original orders and closed his shop, but when he was turned down for unemployment—twice—he said he had no choice but to go back to work to survive.
Karl Manke’s Barber & Beauty Shop in Owosso opened Monday morning and received a packed lobby of customers eager for a trim.
The 77-year-old said he followed the order for as long as he could. He said after multiple extensions of the stay-at-home order and no source of income, he had to return to work.
“I’m not trying to be a scofflaw. I’m trying to make a living,” said Manke. “I tried for the unemployment. I was denied twice on unemployment. I haven’t seen anything in one these other checks from the government.”
Manke isn’t hurting for customers now that he has reopened. News reports say there is a line around the block waiting for their turn to get a trim. At this point, we have to ask our government officials, who seem to think they have all the answers but who cannot help feed people like Manke, what good is any of this doing? Millions of people have to work to eat and the government insisting they starve to (insert today’s reason that keeps shifting here) is not sustainable. People are not able to comply indefinitely with never-ending lockdown orders.
Will this situation in Michigan become 2020’s standoff at the Bundy ranch? When the federal government tried to confiscate the Bundy cattle as repayment for an alleged debt, the militia showed up and stood with the ranchers and caused the government to back down without a shot fired. Bundy was later exonerated in court and the federal government was embarrassed nationally for trying to destroy a small rancher. It was a brilliant moment in American history that should remind the government that their power only goes so far and if they use unreasonable force they may be met with force.
The Michigan Militia appears to be done asking for reasonable action by the state in regards to Manke’s business and has drawn a line in the sand in front of Manke’s barbershop.
Manke has retained legal help with the Kallman Legal Group, which issued a statement, reported by Fox, claiming that the action by the state is illegal.
The government charged Karl with criminal misdemeanor violations for allegedly violating Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders (EO). All the EOs issued by the governor after April 30, 2020, however, are illegal and unlawful because the Legislature refused to extend her declared state of emergency past that date. Governor Whitmer’s Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Robert Gordon, also improperly issued an “Imminent Danger and Abatement Order” against Mr. Manke on Friday, May 8, 2020. At the direction of the Michigan Attorney General, Dana Nessel, the DHHS Order was personally served on Karl at his barber shop by six Michigan State Police Officers. This order violates the public health code and has not been properly issued.
The lockdown orders are beginning to be challenged in courts across America as business owners grow desperate to feed their families and pay their employees. Some are risking jail, like salon-owner Shelley Luther in Dallas, who was released by order of the Supreme Court of Texas after an activist judge imprisoned her for defying lockdown orders. Manke has made it clear that nothing will stop him from cutting hair. “I don’t need the governor to be my mother,” he said. “I’ll be open until Jesus walks in or until they arrest me.”
Manke is sanitizing the shop between customers, limiting the number of people in the shop, wearing a mask, and sanitizing all clippers and combs with a UV light.
Update May 12, 10:41 a.m.: A Shiawassee County judge has denied the state’s request for a temporary restraining order against Manke. This will give his lawyers the opportunity to make the case in court for why the barbershop should remain open. Sheriff Brian Begole also issued a statement Monday saying he would not enforce the Attorney General’s order to shut down the shop. “With limited resources, staffing and facilities, our priority focus will be on enforcing duly passed laws for the protection of Shiawassee County citizens,” BeGole wrote. “I have decided, within my authority, that our office cannot and will not divert our primary resources and efforts towards enforcement of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders.” Manke still faces two counts of misdemeanor charges and over a $1000 fine.
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Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter