Owosso barber reopens in defiance of ‘tyrannical’ government orders

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OWOSSO (WJRT) (5/19/2020) - Owosso barber Karl Manke opened his doors a little more than two weeks ago, defying the Governor’s stay-at-home order.

Since then, we've seen a crowd of supporters outside the shop every day.

That wasn't the case Tuesday. It looked as though it was business as usual, like a day before the coronavirus pandemic began.

Manke took care of a steady stream of customers; and, a few people stopped by just to drop off donations.

Throughout the morning, the open sign wasn't lit, but the door was unlocked as people stopped by to get a haircut.

But, Manke said he didn’t officially open Tuesday until around 2 p.m.

“I don't think he's doing anything wrong. I think he's standing up for what more people should be doing at the same time,” Dan, of Metro Detroit, said.

As a fellow small business owner, he made the trip with his father to show his support for Manke.

He explained they both wore masks; and, his father even had on gloves while they were inside, because they came from a hot spot for the virus.

Dan added, “If we're taking the proper precautions, the same stuff that Home Depot and Walmart are doing, and there's thousands and thousands of people that are going into these Walmarts and Home Depots and that's okay, but why can't a guy that's only seeing maybe 20-30 people doing the same stuff -- why should he not be allowed?”

“This is tyrannical. It's gotten to the point now where somebody can take my license without a hearing,” Manke said. “Just take it, arbitrarily take it, that's a police state.”

With a long line of customers, Manke couldn't even take a break to give ABC12 an interview.

We asked him about working without a license Tuesday. It’s the first day he's opened the shop since the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Agency suspended his license last week.

The Attorney General said by opening, Manke is putting the public at risk for catching COVID-19.

“I refuse to stand down. License or no license, or whatever it is; I'm 77. I mean what are they going to give me life?” Manke laughed.

He will not be at his shop Wednesday. Manke plans to join several other barbers and hair stylists at the capitol building in Lansing, to provide free haircuts.

Manke’s attorney, David Kallman, said a hearing is set this Thursday morning on the state’s request to shut the shop down.

Kallman has also filed an emergency appeal to get Manke’s license back.