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Judge denies Michigan's request to shut down 77-year-old barber who opened shop in defiance of Democratic Gov. Whitmer's COVID-19 order

'I'm gonna stay open 'til Jesus comes'

Image source: YouTube screenshot, composite

A Michigan circuit court judge denied the state's request to sign a temporary restraining order against barber Karl Manke who opened his shop early in defiance of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's coronavirus restrictions, the Lansing State Journal reported.

What are the details?

Manke's barbershop in Owosso has been open since last Monday, and the 77-year-old got a packed lobby of customers the first morning, two citations before Friday — as well as a promise from Michigan Militia members that they won't let police arrest him.

"We're willing to stand in front of that door and block the entrance so the police will have no entry there today," Daniel Brewer told WEYI-TV Saturday.

Image source: WEYI-TV video screenshot

And that may not happen anytime soon. The state attorney general's office confirmed that Shiawassee County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart wouldn't sign the temporary restraining order before holding a hearing, which is what Manke's attorneys said they wanted, the State Journal said.

"The Court wanted to provide Mr. Manke with an opportunity for a hearing on the request for an injunction, despite the clear public health dangers that continued operation of his business creates," spokesman Ryan Jarvi wrote in a statement, the paper reported.

'I'm gonna stay open 'til Jesus comes'

During a triumphant press conference in front of his shop late Monday afternoon, Manke told a crowd of supporters that "I'm gonna stay open 'til Jesus comes."

Image source: YouTube screenshot

At times he was drowned out by honks from passing vehicles and affirmations from the crowd, the Detroit News reported, adding that a large truck parked nearby and several signs held by supporters were adorned with phrases criticizing Whitmer's orders.

"I feel the governor is not my mother, never has been," Manke said, according to the paper. "As a matter of fact, this administration, for the most part, I've been in business longer than they've been alive."

But the barber still faces two misdemeanor charges for reopening his shop despite state shutdown orders, the State Journal said. He faces a fine of more than $1,000 and is set to be arraigned June 23, the paper added, citing court records.

In addition, state police on Friday night issued Manke a health protection order from the state attorney general's office demanding he close his shop, noting that customers from Ann Arbor, Saginaw, Detroit, Jackson, and other areas have visited his business and that it poses "an imminent danger" to public health.

Judge won't order mid-Michigan barber to close youtu.be

What is Whitmer saying?

When asked about Menke's plight and his defiance of her order, the governor said at a Monday news conference that it's all about saving his life and the lives of his customers.

"I expect people to follow the law," Whitmer said with what appeared to be a restrained smile. "These executive orders are not a suggestion, they're not optional, they're not helpful hints."

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Growing opposition

Sheriffs' offices in at least six counties have said they won't enforce Whitmer's orders, the Detroit News reported, adding that some are arguing the legality of the orders since the Republican-controlled state legislature refused to extend the governor's state of emergency past May 28.

Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian Begole on Monday said his department won't enforce Whitmer's orders and that deputies have the responsibility to uphold constitutions at state and federal levels, the News noted.

"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 in a letter, according to the News. "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."

Whitmer has been under fire for weeks with protests and demonstrations over her shutdown. She's prohibited residents from visiting friends and family who live a few doors away and barred them from buying vegetable seeds and gardening supplies at a store.

Anything else?

"If you can walk down the aisles at Walmart, it would seem to me you can walk down the aisles of a church, you can walk down the aisles in Karl's barbershop and practice the same physical distancing, hand-washing, all of the things you've been hearing on and on," said one of Manke's attorneys, David Kallman, according to the Detroit News.

One last thing…
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