Owosso Barber Draws Support After License Suspended for Violating Gov. Whitmer’s Shutdown Order

by Bruce Walker


Throngs of people waited for as long as three hours in an Owosso downpour to see Karl Manke, a local 77-year-old barber, speak on Monday afternoon.

Manke has gained celebrity status and a certain amount of notoriety for his refusal to adhere to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s shutdown of what are deemed non-essential businesses. Manke’s barbershop falls under that rubric as defined by the governor’s executive orders.

Manke’s barber license was suspended by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Thursday.

Joining Manke at the podium was Shelley Luther, a Dallas, Texas, beauty shop owner who was jailed last week for refusing to comply with Texas’ lockdown.

Luther boasts Michigan roots, and told the Owosso crowd she was raised in Frankenmuth, and much of her family still resides there.

She also noted she had no choice but to defy Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s shutdown order when she found herself a month behind on her mortgage.

She also noted most of the beauticians she employs were also behind on their respective mortgages, and some had told her they were performing haircuts illegally in customers’ homes. Those were the reasons she said that prompted her to reopen her shop.

Her actions earned her a seven-day jail sentence of which she served less than 48 hours after the Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency order for her release on a personal bond.

Luther had been charged with violating Judge Eric Moyes’ order to close her shop as well as contempt of court for refusing to apologize to Moyes as he had ordered. The Texas Supreme Court did not overturn Moyes’ judgment, however.

As for Manke, he repeated much the same remarks he made at a news conference in front of his shop last week. Once again, he thanked all those who attended for their combined support.

He also recited the Serenity Prayer as he did last week. Unlike his previous recitation, many of the crowd in attendance joined him.

Luther’s comments veered into political territory, which reflected the impromptu rally for President Donald J. Trump in the adjacent parking lot. She stated she thought Whitmer’s selection of essential and nonessential businesses made little sense to her when the governor’s orders shut down hair-cutting services while allowing abortion services at the same time.

Manke’s attorney, David Kallman, initiated the proceedings with a legal update on his client’s predicament. He stated he had filed an emergency appeal in Shiawassee County Circuit Court Monday morning to stay the suspension of Manke’s barber license.

Kallman also filed an appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals Monday in response to the Attorney General’s office appeal to overturn Shiawassee Circuit County Judge Matthew Stewart’s ruling last Monday. in which he denied the attorney general’s demand to close Manke’s shop.

Both matters are pending, Kallman said.

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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square.
Photo “Karl Manke” by Matt Maddock.





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