Barber Who Reopened: 'I'm Not Caving In to This'

Michigan's Karl Manke, who's been cutting hair for 60 years, is fighting his license suspensions
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2020 11:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – Karl Manke has been cutting hair for nearly 60 of his 77 years. He plans to continue doing so, whether it's legal or not. "I'm not closing up. I’m not caving in to this," says Manke, who had his business and professional licenses temporarily suspended Wednesday, a little more than a week after he reopened his barbershop in Owosso, Mich., in defiance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's shutdown order, per the New York Times. Manke's shop was closed from March to May 4, but he says he couldn't afford to keep his doors closed any longer, per the Detroit News. "I just want to make my living," he tells the Times. He's been doing pretty well. Manke, who wears a mask and sanitizes his tools, worked 90 hours last week as supporters drove more than three hours for a haircut, per the Times. State officials say Manke is putting the public at risk.

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"Anytime you have a barber or other professional providing services to numerous citizens in close proximity to each other and those citizens are then returning to their various residences, there is a risk of contracting and spreading the virus," Michigan's attorney general, Dana Nessel, said Wednesday. The suspensions came after multiple citations and a Department of Health and Human Services order requiring Manke to shut his doors. Manke faces a $1,000 fine and a year in jail "per haircut" under the order, his lawyer, David Kallman, tells the Detroit News. But "I'm not going to kowtow to these unreasonable demands," Manke tells the Times. The barber is fighting the state actions in court and has been given until May 22 to respond, Kallman tells the outlet. Almost $30,000 has been raised for his legal fees. (Read more Michigan stories.)

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