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Conservative group to offer free haircuts at Michigan Capitol to protest COVID-19 stay-home order

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A conservative group plans to offer free haircuts on the state Capitol lawn next week to protest the governor's executive order that closed barbershops and hair salons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karl Manke, 77, cuts the hair of Craig Wiker of Dowagiac at his barbershop in Owosso, on May 11, 2020.

The Michigan Conservative Coalition's demonstration "Operation Haircut" will be held noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday.

“Michigan’s small business owners are patriotic and law-abiding citizens, but enough is enough," Marian Sheridan, a co-founder of the coalition, said in a statement.

"Dope shops are open, abortion mills churn on, but barbershops are, somehow, unsafe. Show us that ‘science’ Governor!” 

The group's announcement about its protest comes about two days after state officials temporarily suspended the license of a 77-year-old Owosso barber who refuses to close his shop in violation of the executive order. It said the event was inspired by the barber, Karl Manke.

MoreState suspends Owosso barber's license for violating restrictions

Manke has vowed the suspension of his license wouldn't stop him from cutting hair at the business. He has received criticism and support from around the country.

Owosso police have cited him for a civil infraction and two misdemeanors. A court date is set for June 23. He faces a $1,000 fine or more.

State officials argue there's a high risk for people to become infected with the coronavirus in businesses like barbershops and hair salons.

“Mr. Manke’s actions in violating Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders as well as other health orders put the public at risk for contracting COVID-19,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement Wednesday. “Anytime you have a barber or other professional providing services to numerous citizens in close proximity to each other and those citizens are then returning to their various residences, there is a risk of contracting and spreading the virus. It is paramount that we take action to protect the public and do our part to help save lives.” 

Sheridan said Wednesday's rally is meant to "demonstrate the insanity still rampant in Lansing. Michigan needs to be reopened now to end the reign of Michigan’s power-hungry bureaucrats.”

The group said barbers will have chairs and equipment to provide basic haircuts. It encourages anyone who attends to comply with social distancing and other safe practices, such as using face coverings.

Michigan's confirmed COVID-19 cases jumped 1,191 Thursday to 49,582 as the state reported "backlogged" lab results and increased testing at correctional facilities. The 1,191 new cases was the highest daily increase statewide since April 24.

MoreMichigan COVID-19 case total nears 50,000, but growth slows in many counties

Also Thursday, the state reported 73 new deaths. Michigan's overall death toll has reached 4,787.

As of Thursday, Michigan was the state with the seventh highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was fourth in the number of deaths related to the pandemic.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez