A judge in Michigan Monday dismissed all charges against a group of hairstylists who participated in the "Operation Haircut" protest at the State Capitol in Lansing.
The Michigan Attorney General's Office brought charges against the stylists after they started offering haircuts outside the Capitol building last May in support of Owosso barber Karl Manke, WJRT News reports.
Manke made headlines last year when he defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's (D-MI) harsh COVID lockdown orders and reopened his barbershop despite her executive order requiring all non-essential businesses to remain closed.
"I had gone six weeks without a paycheck with no money coming in," Manke explained at the time. "I've always worked. I've never looked for handouts. I don't even know what they are. I had somebody call and say why don't you get on food stamps. Well, I don't want food stamps. I want to work."
“[The shutdown] collapsed me, mentally, physically, and spiritually,” he said at the time. “I was in despair. I had to go back to work…I don’t have anybody paying me unless I’m doing work.”
Barber shop owner Karl Manke, who continues to defy @GovWhitmer, tells the story about the time he thought he was going to be arrested by a "big, tall deputy sheriff."
"That big guy says, 'Karl, look at me... I love you.' And he turned around and walked out."
Freedom is rising. pic.twitter.com/eLhvP6Z2Km
— Cliff Maloney (@LibertyCliff) May 19, 2020
But Manke stood his ground and stayed open, resulting in a misdemeanor offense and a fine.
It is all about controlling us! What is the harm on getting a haircut? The barber is compliant and wearing the “required” mask #KarlManke is only trying to earn a living! #OpenMichigan #Freedom & #liberty for all! #AllJobsAreEssential https://t.co/J882LaPwfK
— Mayan Lady (@mayan_lady) May 13, 2020
"Politicians are playing the political politician games, and you know we're the pawns out here. Supposedly somehow or other we're supposed to wait until this coronavirus passes. That could be when Jesus comes," Manke said.
CBN's Faithwire reported in October that those charges were dropped against Manke.
The Michigan high court ruled Whitmer's far-reaching, indefinite lockdowns were an "unlawful delegation of legislative power to the executive branch in violation of the Michigan Constitution."
Manke said dropping the charges, "is definitely a weight off my shoulders." He added, "I just want to earn a living, and I am not a health threat to anyone."
According to WJRT News, those who took part in Operation Haircut included barbers, hairstylists, massage therapists, dog groomers, and seamstresses.
#OperationHaircut protests are underway in Michigan in defiance of @GovWhitmer’s tyrannical & unconstitutional #StayAtHome orders that are killing small business
& harming American workers& families!
FREEDOM IS ESSENTIAL!#ReOpenAmericapic.twitter.com/4pvBZZjEKN
— (@ConservaMomUSA) May 20, 2020
And Attorney David Kallman said the high court's decision this week was a major victory for free speech.
"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," Kallman said. "If a person protests certain issues, the governor will ignore her own orders and walk with you. But if a person protests the governor, she will prosecute you and attempt to destroy your business."