Gretchen Whitmer Board Fines Folk Hero Barber $9,000 ‘for Carrying Comb in Pocket,’ Attending Protest

Barber Karl Manke, of Owosso, gives a free haircut on the steps of the State Capitol during a rally in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Barbers and hair stylists are protesting the state's stay-at-home orders, a defiant demonstration that reflects how salons have become a symbol for small businesses …
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

A regulatory board appointed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) levied $9,000 in fines against a barber Monday who defied her lockdown orders last spring.

Karl Manke repeatedly refused to close his shop in Owosso and won several court cases against Whitmer and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) as they sought to punish him. They lost so many times, a judge finally ordered them to stop pursuing the 77-year-old barber.

Now, the Michigan Board of Barber Examiners slapped Manke with several fines totaling $9,000, the Detroit News reported, “for violations that included carrying a comb in his pocket, accumulating hair and neck guards on the floor at the barbers hop, and participating in a May 20 hair cut protest on the Michigan Capitol steps in May.”

Manke was fined “$500 for each of three sanitation and equipment violations” and $3,000 for “unlicensed hair cutting” on the Capitol steps. The $4,500 fines were assessed twice: on both his personal and business licenses.

“Some things that were seen that were very disturbing to say the least, to put it mildly,” barber board chairman De’Angelo Smith Sr., a Whitmer appointee, said.

“The hair, the neck strips, the comb, the clippers — it’s our responsibility to make sure … that we’re putting the public in the most safest place possible as it relates to providing services,” he added.

The board also disapproved of Manke’s participation in the May protest and was treated as a folk hero for standing up to Whitmer and Nessel.

Kyle Olson / Breitbart News

Manke told Breitbart News the response during the protest and the support for his stand was “overwhelming,” and called himself “a Michigan small town barber that just wants to work.”

“This is an oppressive move on this governor’s part,” Manke said, observing that it “reflects almost a police state.”

“I refuse to stand down on this,” he said.

“I wasn’t this rock star three weeks ago,” Manke told Breitbart News, but Whitmer made him one. He thanked God for the development.

“I’m still standing up. I still have that courage,” Manke said.

“It’s just outrageous,” Manke’s attorney, David Kallman, told the Center Square about the fines.

“They issued the maximum fines out of pettiness and vindictiveness,” he said. “We’ve won all five cases brought against thus far us by the state, and we’ll be filing an appeal of these fines later on this week.”

Kallman argued Manke’s participation in the protest “was the barber’s exercise of his First Amendment free-speech rights to protest what he considered unconstitutional executive orders to close his business.”

Kyle Olson is a reporter for Breitbart News. He is also host of “The Kyle Olson Show,” syndicated on Michigan radio stations on Saturdays–download full podcast episodes. Follow him on Parler.


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