Barber battles on

Owosso barber Karl Manke speaks Saturday afternoon outside his barbershop.

OWOSSO — State officials Tuesday filed motions in 35th Circuit Court seeking to hold barber Karl Manke in contempt of court — and fine him — for continuing to cut hair and not complying with court orders to close.

According to a representative from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, an electronic court hearing is scheduled before Judge Matthew Stewart at 1:15 p.m. Thursday, June 11, on the state’s motion to find Manke, 77, in contempt.

“Plaintiff Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, through its counsel, moves that this Court require Defendant Karl Manke to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of its preliminary injunctive order entered May 29, 2020,” the motion states.

The motion seeks a $7,500 civil fine for his operating on Monday, and requests an additional $7,500 for each day he continues to violate the order. The state also seeks compensation to the state of $5,000.

“In his weekend press conference, Manke said that his issue is with the Governor and her Executive Orders,” the AG’s argument states, “but he then carried off his defiance by rejecting an order from the Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services invoking statutes enacted by the People’s Legislature. Now, he is ignoring an order from the Court in the community in which he operates. Manke is thus rejecting every branch of government. And, as through his press conference, he is encouraging others to do the same.”

The AG’s office sent two special agents to Manke’s business, 421 W. Main St., Monday.

“I spoke with Mr. Manke and told him I was not there to arrest him,” agent Jeffrey Campbell said in the contempt affidavit. “I informed him that his barbershop was open in violation of a court order and that he should be shutting down. He answered that he knew he was supposed to be shut down.

“He stated he was aware we were just doing our job and he has many cops as clients. He told me he would not be shutting down the barbershop.”

The Associated Press reported Manke made officials an offer.

“Both you guys look like you need a haircut,” Manke said he told them.

Attorney David Kallman, Manke’s representative, did not return an email before press time today.

Manke, who defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s ongoing order issued March 21 for barbershops and hair salons to close, has been operating since May 4. Since then, he’s received two misdemeanor citations, and a cease-and-desist order — all of which he also has ignored.

With protesters often standing together out front, ignoring social distancing rules and not wearing masks, Manke has welcomed a steady stream of customers to his shop — sometimes working up to 14 hours a day.

More recently, the Michigan Court of Appeals overruled Shiawassee County Judge Matthew Stewart and ordered Stewart to issue a temporary restraining order.

Following that action, Manke’s lawyer, David Kallman, filed appeals with the Michigan Supreme Court claiming the appellate judges violated their own court rules. Kallman said Friday the appeal comes with an automatic stay of lower court actions.

The Supreme Court website does not currently list any court dates for hearings in the appeal.

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