Salon Owner's Choice: Jail or Apology. She Chose Jail

Shelley Luther of Dallas ignored order to keep her business closed
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2020 8:47 AM CDT
Salon Owner's Choice: Jail or Apology. She Chose Jail
Salon owner Shelley Luther holds a citation and speaks with a Dallas police officer after she was cited for reopening her Salon A la Mode in Dallas on April 24.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)

A salon owner in Dallas is emerging as the public face of the resistance to lockdown orders across the country. Shelley Luther began a week-long jail sentence on Tuesday after refusing orders to close her business, reports the Dallas Morning News. Coverage:

  • The gesture: At a public protest on April 25, Luther ripped up an order from Dallas County to shut her Salon A La Mode. A few days later, Dallas County State District Judge Eric Moye issued a restraining order, but she still kept her salon open. That led to a court hearing on Tuesday.
  • Judge's offer: In court, the judge told Luther she could avoid jail with an apology and a pledge to keep her business closed until the governor said it was OK. She refused. "I have to disagree with you sir, when you say that I’m selfish, because feeding my kids is not selfish,” she said, per CBS DFW. "I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids. So, sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision but I am not going to shut down the salon."

  • To jail: Luther was sentenced to a week in jail and a $7,000 fine, and she was immediately booked into the Dallas County Jail. Her lawyer was filing a petition to try to get her out sooner. "She feels what she’s doing is right, and she feels as though the way to get past this is to recognize that you can’t back down," attorney Warren Norred tells the Washington Post. "The judge was sending a message that we’re going to come after you with both barrels if you deign to stay open and cut hair when the king is not allowing you to."
  • The timing: The hearing took place Tuesday around the same time Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was allowing salons to reopen on Friday, part of the state's loosening of coronavirus restrictions. But that doesn't affect Luther's sentence. Prosecutors made the case that she violated the judge's restraining order, even if she was operating with safety precautions, reports the Texas Tribune. Luther's attorney says her salon will remain open, though it will incur a fine of $500 a day until Friday.
  • The risk: In a May 1 phone call between Abbott and Texas lawmakers, the governor acknowledged the risks, reports the San Antonio Current. “How do we know reopening businesses won't result in faster spread of COVID-19?" says Abbott on audio obtained by a progressive group. "Listen, the fact of the matter is, pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening ... it actually will lead to an increase in spread. It's almost ipso facto ... The goal never has been to get COVID-19 transmission down to zero."
(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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