Defiance in Michigan: Judge sides with barber, mayor reopens town

by WorldTribune Staff, May 12, 2020

Day by day, more and more in Michigan are defying what they see as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s draconian coronavirus lockdown order.

The barber of Owosso is still in business. The mayor of Perry is reopening city hall and is encouraging businesses in the city to do the same.

Owosso barber Karl Manke. / YouTube

A Michigan judge on Monday denied Whitmer’s attempt to shut down Karl Manke’s barbershop in Owosso after he defied her coronavirus lockdown order and opened for business.

The Whitmer administration filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against Manke, saying his barbershop presents “clear public health dangers,” NBC 25 reported. The judge denied the motion.

The Attorney General’s office said: “The Attorney General’s court action, filed on behalf of MDHHS, seeks to enforce the MDHHS Director’s Public Health Order that deemed Mr. Manke’s business an imminent danger to public health in light of the COVID 19 pandemic and directs him to immediately cease operations at his barbershop.”

Manke said he reopened after he was denied unemployment benefits three times.

The 77-year-old barber had been repeatedly fined for allegedly violating the lockdown order, but supporters paid the fines.

“I just couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do that,” Manke told radio host Steve Gruber about continuing to operate his business. “I don’t care really if I have to spend all of the money I’m making right now to pay my fine. It’s worth it.”

Manke said he will only leave “if they drag me out in the street or Jesus comes.”

Meanwhile, Mayor James A Huguelet said Perry’s city hall will reopen May 18. The mayor also declared that local law enforcement will not cooperate with other law enforcement agencies in enforcing Whitmer’s executive orders.

Below is the text of the letter posted to the city’s website:

It is past time that government leadership treat the people of Michigan and of Perry like the responsible, thoughtful adults they are. I write today to state clearly my opposition to some of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders. While I understand and share her desire to protect the public, I question some of the restrictions she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority. She has created a vague over-reaching framework of emergency laws that only confuse Michigan’s responsible thoughtful citizens.

Therefore, we will continue not having strict enforcement of these orders and effective immediately the City of Perry will not assist other law enforcement agencies in the strict enforcement of those orders. We will deal with every case as an individual situation and apply common-sense in assessing the apparent violation.

I took an oath to uphold and defend the Michigan Constitution, as well as the U.S. Constitution and to ensure the god-given rights of the people of Perry are not violated. I believe the City of Perry as a municipal government is on the front line to defend your civil liberties.

Our focus needs to be on reopening our city and getting people back to work. We also need to be aware that this virus can be deadly and that we need to continue to practice social distancing, washing of hands, wearing of masks as well as other medically recommended measures. Allowing those without paychecks back to work is imperative to the economic success and well-being of our community. We can do this thoughtful and in stages especially where businesses adopt appropriate social hygiene practices.

Together, as a community, we will overcome this pandemic, and as American, we will preserver and come out of this stronger than before. Standing together, six feet apart, we are #Perrystrong. As Mayor for this community, I want you to know I have your back and will continue to serve the people who have entrusted me with your protection.

Last month, a group of sheriffs announced they would not enforce some of Whitmer’s executive orders.

Sheriffs Mike Borkovich, Ted Schendel, Ken Falk, and Kim Cole of Michigan’s 101st District released a press statement detailing what they said was their decision to place their oath to the Constitution above Whitmer’s wishes.

“We write today to inform the public for our respective counties of our opposition to some of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders. While we understand her desire to protect the public, we question some restrictions that she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority,” read the letter signed by each sheriff.

Hundreds of thousands signed petitions and joined online groups to voice their frustration with Whitmer’s orders and to organize protests.

“People are basically being told what they can and can’t buy at stores,” said Matt Seely, a member of the Michigan Conservative Coalition who rallied outside the state Capitol last month. “Nothing makes sense. You can buy a bottle of liquor, but you can’t buy a gallon of paint.”

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