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Judge dismisses charges against Michigan hair stylists who defied and protested Gov. Whitmer's lockdown orders

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The attorney general's office didn't even bother to show up

An officer gives a warning to Brenda, a barber who didn't give her last name, as she was giving a free haircut near the steps of the state Capitol during Operation Haircut on May 20 in Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)

Last spring, hair stylists gathered at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing for "Operation Haircut" to support 77-year-old barber Karl Manke, who faced charges after defying Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's coronavirus lockdown orders by keeping his barbershop open.

During the May 20 protest, about 20 hair stylists gave haircuts on the Capitol lawn, and a number of them were cited by state police for their actions.

Though the charges against Manke were dropped in October shortly after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Whitmer's executive orders were unconstitutional, the hair stylists who dared protest the governor were still facing charges of disorderly conduct for operating an illegal profession or business.

Attorney David Kallman, who represented six of the stylists, said the disorderly conduct misdemeanor is one usually filed against people connected to illegal gambling operations, prostitution rings, or bootlegging alcohol, the Detroit News reported.

The charge carried a punishment of a $500 fine or 90 days in jail.

On Monday, a Michigan district judge dismissed the charges against the stylists after the attorneys representing the attorney general's office didn't bother to show up, MLive reported.

When Monday's hearing began, Lansing District Court Judge Kristen Simmons said, "No one from the Attorney General's Office has appeared," MLive said, which led Kallman to request that the charges be dismissed "with prejudice," meaning the charges cannot be filed again later.

Kallman said he had already filed a brief on the motion to dismiss with Attorney General Dana Nessel's office that had gone unanswered, MLive reported.

"I guess I would take from that, that they don't oppose our motion," Kallman noted.

Judge Simmons agreed.

"They failed to appear so they failed to prosecute on this matter, so I will grant your motion to dismiss," she said, according to MLive.

Afterward, Kallman offered a parting shot at Whitmer.

"If a person protests certain issues, the governor will ignore her own orders and walk with you," he said, referring to Whitmer's participation in at least one BLM protest. "But if a person protests the governor, she will prosecute you and attempt to destroy your business."

MLive said the attorney general's office did not respond to requests for comment.

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