Owosso, Michigan –-(Ammoland.com)- Members of the Michigan Militia are determined to keep a 77-year-old Owosso barber open for business despite Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order to keep businesses across the state closed during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Karl Manke decided to endure multiple fines and risk arrest to open his barbershop for business. The senior citizen decided to open to customers because he believes that the state is violating his right to work. He chose to stand up to what he sees as an overbearing government instead of continuing to comply with the Governor’s order.
“I’ve lived under 14 presidents, and this is the worst depression I’ve lived under, and I’m not going to live under it,” Manke told the Detroit News. “I believe it’s my right to work to make my living, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
The elderly barber underscored that he could not pay his bills without working. The 77-year-old hasn’t gotten his unemployment benefits or his stimulus check. His situation echoes those of other workers across the country who are struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 outbreak. He also thinks the government is playing favorites by letting big box stores remain open while closing down small businesses.
On Wednesday, police cited Manke with a civil infraction and two misdemeanor charges. He is facing a fine of at least $1000 and other punishments. The judge in the case set his court date for June 23 2020. Attorney General Dana Nessel will request an order from the Shiawassee County Circuit Court to close the business if Manke continues to refuse to volunteer to close. AG Nessel believes that Manke’s business is an “imminent danger” to the health of those in Michigan.
The barber has no plans of closing his doors and is risking arrest. The lines to get haircuts stretches to the streets, and supporters surround the shop.
He is cutting hair with a mask and washing his hands between customers. He is disinfecting his equipment with a UV light that has shown effective in killing the virus. Many believe that the shutdown orders across the country violate the U.S. Constitution and the right to peaceful assembly.
This situation echoes the case of Texas salon owner Shelley Luther who police arrested for opening up her salon in defiance of a similar shutdown order in the Lone Star State. A judge jailed Luther after she refused to apologize for opening her business and being selfish. She contended that she was not selfish and had no attention of apologizing for trying to feed her family. The Texas Supreme Court ultimately freed Luther.
The Michigan Militia came into the spotlight last month by attending an armed protest in Lansing against the forced shutdown of the state. The group was started by retired U.S. Air Force non-commissioned officer and Baptist minister, Norman Olson, in 1994 in response to Bill Clinton’s strict gun control laws. In 1995 the group was thrown into the spotlight because Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols once attended a Michigan Militia, although Nichols was not a member. The militia has been critical of the state’s order to close local businesses.
The Michigan Militia says that if the police come to arrest Manke that they would stand between the law enforcement officers and the senior citizen barber. The group says they will prevent the police from entering the establishment. They say the issue is bigger than a single business. They believe it is important to defend people's rights.
“Governor Whitmer along with other Governors across the country have violated the First Amendment to freely assemble and our natural right to work and provide,” said Solomon, the organizer of the Michigan Militia action. “This is less about Mr Karl Manke now, and more about every free American's rights!”
As of this writing, the police have not attempted to arrest Manke, and the senior citizen barber is still cutting hair.
AmmoLand News has reached out to all parties involved, but none have responded to AmmoLand New’s request for comment.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crumpy.com.