bookmark_borderMichigan barbershop defies lockdown order with the help of militia

In another example of brave resistance to authoritarianism, a Michigan barbershop has opened in defiance of the state’s stay-at-home order.

On Friday, when barber Karl Manke, 77, attempted to open his shop in Owosso, Michigan, state police served him with an order from the Attorney General’s office telling him to close.

Yesterday, he opened shop again, this time with the help of the militia group the Michigan Home Guard, as well as dozens of other supporters. “Six troopers came in to enforce the governor’s order or to issue a cease or desist order so we are here to make sure he doesn’t get arrested,” said militia member Daniel Brewer. “We’re willing to stand in front of that door and block the entrance so the police will have no entry there today.”

Manke said that he had complied with the stay-at-home order for weeks but was denied unemployment benefits and had no choice but to open shop to earn a living. “I don’t need the governor to be my mother,” he said. “I’ll be open until Jesus walks in or until they arrest me.”

Reportedly the barbershop was filled with customers, with a line stretching down the block.

A legal victory took place today for Manke and his customers. Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart declined to sign a temporary restraining order against him. Additionally, Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian Begole announced that he would not enforce the stay-at-home order. “With limited resources, staffing and facilities, our priority focus will be on enforcing duly passed laws for the protection of Shiawassee County citizens,” he said. “I have decided, within my authority, that our office cannot and will not divert our primary resources and efforts towards enforcement of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders.”

Manke does face two misdemeanor charges and a $1000 fine.

At a press conference today, he said, “I’ve never seen this type of oppression by a government, ever, not even in the 60’s. The government is not my parent. Never has been…. If people don’t feel safe, they should stay home.”

Amen to that.

bookmark_borderProtests spread as Trump voices support

Protests against coronavirus-related restrictions on individual liberty are continuing to spread.

On Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators flooded the capitol building in Lansing, Michigan. Some displayed a large sign reading “freedom” on the capitol steps, while others gathered in the public gallery of the building. The protest was organized by the organization Michigan United for Liberty.

“The solution is worse than the problem,” protester Ryan Kelley said of the state’s stay-at-home orders banning most businesses from operating and people from leaving their homes for all but essential reasons.

One of the protesters, Karen Kirkpatrick Hoop, called the demonstration “an incredibly beautiful and freedom-invoking vision… This is an international movement of people that are fed up with an increase in government control.”

Authoritarian politicians, unsurprisingly, were not so positive. “Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us,” complained State Senator Dayna Polehanki. “Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today.”

“Yesterday’s scene at the capitol was disturbing, to be quite honest,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Swastikas and Confederate flags, nooses and automatic rifles do not represent who we are as Michiganders. This state has a history of people coming together in times of crisis.”

My response to these criticisms of the protest is: if you don’t want people to protest against you, maybe you shouldn’t take away their fundamental rights. Whitmer might have a point about swastikas – although I did not see any of those in any photos or videos of the protest – but there is nothing wrong with Confederate flags or guns. As for the nooses, Whitmer seems to be referring to signs that said, “Tyrants get the rope.” To which I would respond, if you don’t want to see such signs, perhaps you should stop being a tyrant. Also, there is nothing honorable about “coming together in times of crisis” if coming together means complying with authoritarian policies. The protesters should be praised for their courage, not criticized.

President Trump voiced his support for the protests, tweeting, “The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

More protests took place today in Chicago, Raleigh, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful tyranny,” read one protester’s sign outside the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

And even more protests all over the country are scheduled for this weekend.