‘It is our constitutional right to do what we are doing…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) A barber in Washington state reopened his shop this week in defiance of Gov. Jay Inslee’s shelter-in-place order, arguing that the government cannot infringe upon his “constitutional right” to make a living.
Robert Martin, owner of Stag Barber and Styling, said he decided to reopen after Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney publicly stated he would no longer enforce Inslee’s executive order.
Fortney clarified in a statement on Wednesday that he did not mean to encourage “defiance of the law.”
“To the contrary, I have encouraged residents and business owners to exercise their rights under the law by reaching out and contacting their local leaders and state representatives,” he said.
But Martin said he has no intention of closing his shop, blasting Inslee’s order as a “scam” and thanking the more than 130 customers who lined up outside his barbershop to pay for haircuts this weekend.
“I’m supporting all these patriots and they’re supporting me,” he said, according to the Everett Herald.
Martin said he’s doing his best to follow the federal government’s health guidelines, including tying a red bandana around his neck to put over his mouth “if it feels like I’m going to have a sneeze.”
And if any of his customers reports an illness, Martin said he’ll “give them a shot of whiskey.”
“That will kill the germs,” he said.
Several customers lined up outside of Martin’s shop this weekend and said they don’t mind Martin’s unconventional health standards.
“He just seems like a normal person who just wants to keep his business open. He wants to keep his food on the table. And I’m in full support of that ‘cause I feel pretty bad about the small businesses that people put their heart in and because of this virus — they all have to close down,” customer Tanner Zingleman, who waited more than 90 minutes to get a haircut from Martin, told KOMO News.
Several other customers said they traveled to Martin’s barbershop for similar reasons.
“I liked what they were saying and what they were standing up for, so I got in line,” one customer told KTTH’s Jason Rantz.
They received a few negative remarks from people driving by, the customer recalled, “but all that we had to say was just, ‘Thank you for your opinion,'” he said.
Martin’s actions earned a rebuke from Inslee, who told him to “cut it out.”
“This person in Snohomish County, they’re going to have to come into compliance,” Inslee said during a Tuesday press conference, referring to Martin.
The state’s Department of Licensing is also reportedly considering revoking Martin’s barber license if he refuses to obey Inslee’s order. But Martin said he doesn’t care.
“I’ll work anyway,” he said.
Martin said that the numbers do not justify the extreme measures Inslee has taken, and argued that the loss of livelihood will be much more detrimental than the coronavirus.
“I just don’t believe what’s happening,” he told CBS affiliate KIRO-TV. “They don’t have the authority to take that away from us. It is our constitutional right to do what we are doing.”