- Protesters in Michigan began giving out free haircuts outside the state’s Capitol in defiance of the governor’s stay-at-home order.
- Michigan State Police said seven of the protesters were cited for disorderly conduct after “ignoring warnings to stop cutting hair.”
- Haircuts have become a popular way to defy local government orders, and a number of hairdressers and barbers across the country have illegally reopened for business.
- Government officials and experts have cautioned that services like haircuts cannot be performed without close contact that could risk spreading the virus.
- But hairdressers and barbers have argued that they’re desperate for income and need to keep working.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Michigan State Police tweeted that roughly 300 people participated in the latest protest outside the Capitol building in Lansing. Seven of those protesters were cited for disorderly conduct “after ignoring warnings to stop cutting hair.”
Photos from the event showed many of the protesters standing within six feet of one another, many of them not wearing masks. The protest was organised by the Michigan Conservative Coalition,NBC News reported.
Demonstrators have arrived at the Capitol for “Operation Haircut.” All individuals engaging in haircuts are being educated on the law. Those who do not comply will be cited for disorderly conduct. All citations will be forwarded to the AG’s Office for review. pic.twitter.com/XVb8VVPYFx
— Michigan State Police (@MichStatePolice) May 20, 2020
“This is about our government overreaching,” one organiser, Meshawn Maddock, told WJBK-TV. “It feels tyrannical what we are living under here in Michigan right now.”
It’s not the first time in recent weeks that hairdressers and barbers have protested against stay-at-home orders. Haircuts have become a popular way to defy government rules.
Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther made national headlines after she reopened her salon in defiance of Texas emergency orders, and spent two days in jail before the Texas Supreme Court ordered her release.
Similarly, the Michigan barber Karl Manke sparked controversy after reopening his shop despite strict orders from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Manke’s licence was suspended, but he told media he intended to keep cutting hair even without a licence.
Officials across the country have ruled hair salons, barbershops, and other personal care services to be non-essential, and experts have cautioned that services like haircuts cannot be performed without the type of close contact that could risk spreading the virus.
For instance, one New York barber tested positive for the coronavirus after continuing to give haircuts in violation of the state’s orders, sparking concerns that the virus may have spread among his clients.
Public health officials urged anyone who has recently gotten a haircut in Kingston, New York, to get tested for COVID-19 in light of the news.
But the hairdressers and barbers who have defied the state orders have argued that they can’t pay their bills without working and that they’re desperate for income.
The New York barber, Joseph LaLima, told The New York Times that even though he spent four days in the hospital being treated for coronavirus, he did not believe he had done anything wrong by reopening his business. He said he was simply trying to earn a living.
“I am aggravated to the nines,” LaLima told The Times. “Is [New York Gov. Andrew] Cuomo going to pay me? Is he going to make up the difference? Is he going to pay my taxes? Is he going to pay the heat and electric? Is he going to feed my family?”
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