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The demonstration, organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition and dubbed “Operation Haircut,” attracted about 300 people who opposed the measures Whitmer imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“I will not stand down,” declared Karl Manke, a 77-year-old barber who was among about a dozen groomers offering free haircuts at the demonstration.
Manke gained national recognition after reopening his shop in Owosso earlier this month. He was cited twice and had his license suspended by regulators last week after refusing to close.
Seven barbers or hairdressers were cited for disorderly conduct after refusing to stop cutting hair at the demonstration, Michigan State Police said. The cases were referred to the state attorney general. The penalty is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine or both.
Angela Rigas, of Caledonia, said she was ticketed after refusing three times to stop cutting hair.
“We’re all here for the same reason today — to show the governor that our rights do not come from her and that we need to open Michigan. People need to get back to work,” she said.
Manke told “Fox & Friends First” on Thursday that he was keeping his business open despite the potential consequences.
“I’m 77 years old. I mean, what are they going to give me? Life?” he asked. “I’ve got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. I [couldn’t] care less.”
During a visit to Midland to address flooding that has forced thousands to evacuate, Whitmer told reporters Wednesday that she understands the protesters’ frustration.
“But the more people moving about and flouting the law, the harder it’s going to be turn the dial and take the next step. … In the midst of a global pandemic, what I ask is that people do so in a way that does not expose themselves or others to a prolonged public health crisis,” she said.
Michigan has reported at least 53,009 confirmed coronavirus cases and 5,060 deaths as of Wednesday, according to state health department data.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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