Charges dropped against mid-Michigan barber who reopened shop

Coronavirus

Karl Manke, 77, waves to people gathered just before a press conference on Monday, May 11, 2020 at Karl Manke’s Beauty & Barber Shop in Owosso, Mich. Manke has defied the governor’s order not to conduct business. (Sarahbeth Maney/The Flint Journal via AP)

OWOSSO, Mich. (AP) — Misdemeanor charges are being dropped against a Michigan barber who defied Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and reopened his shop last spring during the coronavirus pandemic, a lawyer said Monday.

The case against Karl Manke of Owosso fizzled after the Michigan Supreme Court on Oct. 2 said Whitmer used an unconstitutional law as the foundation for emergency orders to control the virus, David Kallman said.

Barbershops and salons were closed for months until June 15. But Manke, 77, reopened in early May, declaring that “government is not my mother.”

He inspired people from all over Michigan to drive to his shop for a haircut. Manke cut hair on the grounds of the state Capitol during a protest in May.

Kallman said the Shiawassee County prosecutor’s office is dropping the case.

“It is definitely a weight off my shoulders,” Manke said. “I just want to earn a living, and I am not a health threat to anyone.”

State regulators still are trying to revoke his barber license, Kallman said. A hearing is set for Nov. 19.

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