CORUNNA — The Owosso barber who opened his shop in defiance of state executive orders today saw his license suspended, according to his attorney.
According to a representative at attorney David Kallman’s Kallman Legal Group, the state suspended barber Karl Manke’s license. Kallman’s staff said “they (were) in discussion about Mr. Manke’s options at this time.”
The Michigan State Attorney General’s Office was planning to seek a temporary restraining order for the second time today to force Manke to close his shop after their initial request was denied Monday by 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart.
Stewart denied the AG’s request for the TRO, stating in his ruling that he wanted to give both sides the opportunity to argue their case before issuing such an order. He said the request was not an emergency, since the state AG’s office waited until after the weekend to file papers.
“(The AG’s office) did not enforce its own abatement order,” Stewart wrote in his opinion. “Instead, it waited through the weekend to file this action. If the public health did not require defendant’s immediate warrantless arrest, then the public health does not require depriving him of notice.”
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office indicated Tuesday they would continue to attempt to force Manke to close. Representatives declined to comment on the case, citing ongoing litigation.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 60,000 Americans, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer previously issued an executive order requiring businesses that are unable to practice “social distancing” to remain closed at least until May 28. Such businesses include dine-in restaurants, barbers, hair salons and other close-contact businesses. Other businesses have slowly been reopening.
Manke, 77, has grabbed local, state and national headlines after reopening last week. He has claimed repeatedly that he needed to return to work because he needs money to “support his family.”
Over several days he claimed to have worked up to 15 hours per day and often had lines of people outside his building, 421 W. Main St., many of whom did not wear masks or maintain a 6-foot separation.
Dozens of protesters also stood outside his shop on several days and also did not take part in recommended safety precautions.
Manke was cited twice by Owosso police and later was served with a cease-and-desist letter by Michigan State Police troopers on behalf of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Manke’s attorney, David Kallman, said Tuesday that he would meet with Stewart and representatives from the AG’s office today via Zoom meeting. Further proceedings will be scheduled after that meeting.
Separate from the AG’s request for a TRO, Manke still faces two misdemeanor charges for operating his business during the governor’s executive order requiring non-essential businesses to close. Hearings are tentatively set for June 23, but could be pushed back due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Kallman plans to file motions to have those charges dismissed.
Additionally, the state could revoke Manke’s business license, though it has not indicated whether it will do so. Kallman said such a move would be “vindictive.”
Manke has repeatedly vowed to remain open despite any state orders, saying he’d give hair cuts until he’s arrested or “Jesus walks in.”
The situation has divided the community, with some supporting Manke’s right to operate his business and be able to make a living. Others on social media accused Manke of a “publicity stunt,” pointing out he drives expensive cars, and is long past the age when he could draw Social Security.
Five separate gofundme account pages set up on his behalf for legal bills, fines and other costs have raised more than $23,300 as of this morning.
Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole issued a press release Monday that stated his department would not enforce the governor’s executive orders related to businesses opening. Perry Mayor James Huguelet released a similar administrative order several hours later.