Controversial Lockdown Defiance Showdown in Michigan

Michigan map and padlock representing Michigan's lockdown

Are you or is a loved one facing charges for reopening a business during Michigan’s lockdown?

Who would have ever thought that hairdressers and barbers would become politically polarizing forces in this nation?

It’s true; we’ve seen bakers and wedding photographers in the same spotlight in recent years, but never a hairdresser.

You would think the universal experience of having hair would keep most barbers from being targeted by a political agenda.

However, that has changed since coronavirus lockdown have continued into their third month in Michigan.

The scientific data and reporting on the COVID-19 virus and the personal and political responses have changed.

People object to being locked in their houses for so long and seeing their businesses go under.

In two weeks, two different hairdressers and one CEO have made national headlines for opening their trades without the go-ahead of state officials.

One of them is a barber from right here in Michigan.

Michigan Barber Becomes Incendiary Figure

Seventy-seven-year-old Karl Manke has opened his Owosso barbershop on May 4. He vowed not to close unless police arrested him or “Jesus walks in.”

In the wake of armed protests at our state capital and a fight between Governor Whitmer and GOP legislators over her state of emergency declarations, it may not seem surprising for some that small business owners like Manke have had enough.

Even though Manke is in an age group notoriously more at-risk for contracting COVID-19, it hasn’t stopped him from wanting to open his business and make money again.

If you look at the pictures, you can see Manke is wearing a mask. He reports that he sanitizes his tools with UV light.

Manke has been issued a cease-and-desist order and two misdemeanor citations totaling to over $1,000.

Now, he has had his license temporarily stripped after judge Matthew Stewart declined to sign an order to have his shop shut down without first holding a hearing.

Manke told Fox News that he had expected to “swing in the wind alone,” and can’t believe the support he’s gotten.

Are Court Fights the Future of Our Country?

Last week, Shelley Luther – a Texas hairdresser and salon owner – was sentenced to seven days in jail for opening her salon against lockdown orders.

It became national news.

Governor Greg Abbott was sympathetic to Luther’s side of the case against local authorities. He amended his executive order to make it impossible for anyone to be thrown in jail for defiance. He named Luther specifically.

Texas moved to open businesses later in the week.

If you follow the news, you probably also heard about how Elon Musk – CEO and founder of Tesla. He successfully got Alameda County, California officials to allow his factory in Fremont to remain open.

Musk made it clear that he would move his business to another state, taking 10,000 jobs with him.

It probably doesn’t surprise anyone that Manke and Luther are having their livelihoods threatened and face legal consequences for running their businesses.

At the same time, Musk can command a change with his millions.

The lockdowns continue to be a controversial issue. There are some people – maybe many – who want them to continue without a clear picture of how and when to reopen.

There are also some, perhaps many more, who want to make the decisions on their own to open their businesses, visit friends and relatives, and return to a more normal life – especially in places like Owosso, Michigan, which haven’t been hard hit by COVID-19.

Will we see a loosening of restrictions, or will these battles all have to be fought in court by concerned citizens not wanting to lose their livelihoods? Time will tell.


One takeaway here is that Luther, Manke, and Musk all have support.

Karl Manke’s business continues to be swamped since he opened up on May 4. People have driven hours to show their support and get haircuts. To these people, he’s not a dangerous criminal; He’s a hero. It leaves you wondering what might happen if more business owners did the same.

If you are facing criminal charges or are worried about facing criminal charges for reopening your business in Michigan during the lockdown, you are probably not as alone as you think.

If you have been charged, please contact my office. We will be honored to help.

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