‘I have no choice. I need to feed my family, and my stylists could not feed their families…’
UPDATE: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton urged the release of Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther on Wednesday afternoon, following her jailing by County Judge Clay Jenkins for opening her salon, against a statewide mandate to close due to the coronavirus.
Shelley Luther should immediately be released from jail. Locking her up is a misguided abuse of power, especially considering Dallas County released real criminals to “protect them from COVID-19.”
Release her now so she can return to her family. pic.twitter.com/67KrhQBEyf
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) May 6, 2020
And Abbott said in a statement:
I join the Attorney General in disagreeing with the excessive action by the Dallas Judge, putting Shelley Luther in jail for seven days. As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option. Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety; however, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: (Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A Dallas salon owner was sentenced to seven days in jail and fined $7,000 for reopening her business despite the state’s shelter-in-place order.
Shelley Luther, owner of Salon à la Mode, was handed a cease-and-desist letter last week by County Judge Clay Jenkins after she reopened her salon on April 24.
Luther ignored the letter and attended a protest outside of the courthouse the next day, ripping the letter in front of the building.
“Come and get it, Judge Clay Jenkins. Come and get it,” she said at the rally.
“You have rights to feed your children and make income,” she continued. “And anyone that wants to take away those rights is wrong.”
On top of the jail sentence and fine, Salon à la Mode is being fined $500 for every day it remains open, which has been seven days thus far.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that salons will be allowed to reopen on Friday, but he has not yet commented on Luther’s case.
Luther argued before court that her salon followed the proper social-distancing guidelines. But this didn’t matter, according to city attorneys, who argued Luther willfully violated the court’s temporary restraining order by continuing to operate her business.
Luther took the stand and told the judge that she opened out of necessity, according to the Texas Tribune.
“I have no choice. I need to feed my family, and my stylists could not feed their families,” Luther explained.
Dallas Civil District Judge Eric Moyé, who presided over the hearing, replied and said Luther can’t just take matters into her own hands.
“The rule of law governs us. People cannot take it upon themselves to determine what they will and will not do,” Moyé said.
Moyé then gave Luther the chance to avoid jail time by acknowledging “that your own actions were selfish,” and that they put “your own interest ahead of those in the community in which you live,” according to a local CBS News station.
Luther refused, and said that although she has “respect for this court and laws,” it is not selfish to make a living.
“I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids,” Luther said. “So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with you decision but I am not going to shut the salon.”