A district court dropped all criminal charges filed against six Michigan hairstylists who defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus lockdown last May.
Judge Kristen Simmons rejected Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel’s attempt to punish several of the hairstylists who participated in “Operation Haircut,” an event last year during which hundreds of Michiganders protested Whitmer’s restrictions and were given “free” haircuts.
The state charged seven of the hairstylists with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500 if convicted.
“It is a relief that they no longer face the prospect of having a criminal record and potential jail time for merely exercising their right to peaceably speak out,” David Kallman, the attorney who represented the hairstylists, said in a statement.
“If a person protests certain issues, the governor will ignore her own orders and walk with you,” Kallman said. “But if a person protests the governor, she will prosecute you and attempt to destroy your business.”
The Michigan Supreme Court struck down Whitmer’s coronavirus orders issued after April 30, saying they “lack any basis under Michigan law.”
As a result, thousands of Michigan workers charged with misdemeanors for violating Whitmer’s executive orders have had their charges dropped.
“We’ve got criminal cases all over the state for gym owners,” Kallman said back in October. “I’m expecting all of those to be dismissed shortly.”
“Operation Haircut” was one of several anti-lockdown protests that took place in Michigan last year. Everyone who participated in the event followed health officials’ safety guidelines, but wanted to make a point about Whitmer’s “tyrannical” orders.
“A 77-year-old barber became a leader in our state with the first person brave enough to risk his license, to stand up to our governor,” event organizer Meshawn Maddock said, referring to Ossowo barber Carl Manske, who kept his shop open despite state orders.
“We are proud of him, and we were impressed by him,” Maddock added. “And immediately a lot of other hair stylists, barbers and all that kind of service reached out to us and said, ‘What can I do?'”