Is A Barbershop In Michigan The Next Lexington And Concord?

On the morning of April 19, 1775, the village greens of the towns of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts became the spark that lit the powder keg that was the American Revolution and fight for independence from the British.

After years of verbal sparring and even some physical clashes over policies and taxes levied upon the American people, 700 British soldiers sortied from Boston to the towns Concord to seize weapons and gunpowder that were being stored there. Their path of march would take them through the town of Lexington. Forewarned of the British approach, 77 members of the local militia turned out and stood on the village green, waiting for the British to approach. When the British came upon the Americans, their response was predictable.

A British major yelled, “Throw down your arms! Ye villains, ye rebels.” The heavily outnumbered militiamen had just been ordered by their commander to disperse when a shot rang out. To this day, no one knows which side fired first. Several British volleys were subsequently unleashed before order could be restored. When the smoke cleared, eight militiamen lay dead and nine were wounded, while only one Redcoat was injured.

After brushing aside the Americans, the British continued to Concord. The Americans had moved most of the supplies, but the British did find some and burned them. The smoke from the fire could be seen for miles and thinking that the British had burned the entire town, calls went out to militia and minutemen to protect the people, property and rights of the American citizens. The British had left a contingent of soldiers to defend the North Concord Bridge and that contingent was set upon by several hundred of the militia. The British fired at the Americans first and the Americans returned fire.

The British retreated back to Boston, harassed and harried by the American militia the entire way.

The colonists did not show great marksmanship that day. As many as 3,500 militiamen firing constantly for 18 miles only killed or wounded roughly 250 Redcoats, compared to about 90 killed and wounded on their side. Nevertheless, the relatively low casualties of the Battles of Lexington and Concord proved they could stand up to one of the most powerful armies in the world.

The sequence of events leading up to and ending in the confrontation on April 19, 1775 bears a striking resemblance to what is happening in the town of Owosso, Michigan where a 77 year old barber by the name of Karl Manke has defied Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer “stay at home order.” Manke felt that he was left with little or no choice to reopen his shop.

The 77-year-old said he followed the order for as long as he could. He said after multiple extensions of the stay-at-home order and no source of income, he had to return to work.

“I’m not trying to be a scofflaw. I’m trying to make a living,” said Manke. “I tried for the unemployment. I was denied twice on unemployment. I haven’t seen anything in one these other checks from the government.”

Clearly Manke is not some radical trying to stir the pot. He wants to work and support himself and his family.

I expect people to follow the law. These executive orders are not a suggestion, they’re not optional, they’re not helpful hints, this is an order to prevent the spread of COVID19,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

After opening, the Michigan State police and the Owosso police descended upon Manke’s shop and issued two citations for over $1000 demanding that Manke close the shop.

Manke refused to back down.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services went to court to seek a cease and desist order against Manke essentially making the order to shut the shop down legal.

Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart refused to sign the order. Instead, the Judge wants time to hold a hearing on the closing and the executive orders rather than blindly follow the direction of the Governor.

As lawyers are wont to do, both sides claimed a bit of a victory in this legal battle that was essentially put on hold.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office released a statement saying:

Today, the Shiawassee County Circuit Court denied the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ request for a temporary restraining order seeking to have Karl Manke cease all business operations at his Owosso barbershop. The Court wanted to provide Mr. Manke with an opportunity for a hearing on the request for an injunction, despite the clear public health dangers that continued operation of his business creates. The Attorney General’s court action, filed on behalf of MDHHS, seeks to enforce the MDHHS Director’s Public Health Order that deemed Mr. Manke’s business an imminent danger to public health in light of the COVID 19 pandemic and directs him to immediately cease operations at his barbershop. The State is seeking to schedule a hearing as soon as possible.

Manke’s lawyer David Kallman of the Kallman Legal Group had a slightly different take:

The government charged Karl with criminal misdemeanor violations for allegedly violating Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders (EO). All the EOs issued by the governor after April 30, 2020, however, are illegal and unlawful because the Legislature refused to extend her declared state of emergency past that date. Governor Whitmer’s Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Robert Gordon, also improperly issued an “Imminent Danger and Abatement Order” against Mr. Manke on Friday, May 8, 2020. At the direction of the Michigan Attorney General, Dana Nessel, the DHHS Order was personally served on Karl at his barber shop by six Michigan State Police Officers. This order violates the public health code and has not been properly issued.

While the legal battle was going on, other things were happening.

First, people began to flock to Manke’s barbershop for haircuts as well as support him in general.

With signs in hand and flags held high, crowds hovered outside Manke’s Barber Shop letting him know they stand with his decision.

“If he’s 77 and can stand on his feet, I figured I can stand out here and support him as well,” a supporter named Matt said.

Matt supports Manke and is a small business owner himself. He too wants to send a message.

“He just wants to open up, feed his family and I think it’s important for all small businesses to do that instead of being afraid,” Matt stated.

Secondly, the Sheriff’s Office of Shiawassee County in which Owosso is located, issued a statement saying they will not enforce the Executive Orders from Witmer.

Sheriff Brian BeGole says they have received many calls and messages from residents and businesses in regards to the orders from the governor.

The office says, “our goal is to ensure that everyone feels safe and is treated fairly. With limited resources, staffing and facilities, our priority focus will be on enforcing duly passed laws for the protection of Shiawassee County citizens.

Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, which is directly southeast of Shiawassee County, has said they will not enforce Witmer’s Executive orders either.

The actual City of Owosso and their police department aren’t saying what they will do, but have indicated that they will enforce the Executive Orders if directed to do so by the State Attorney General and will begin to issue citations to Manke on a daily basis.

Lastly, and perhaps most troubling, the militia has shown up.

Members of the Michigan Militia say they will take action to keep Manke from going to jail.

“Yesterday 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. We’re willing to stand in front of that door and block the entrance so the police will have no entry there today,” said Owosso resident, Daniel Brewer.

We cannot help but think that a barbershop in Michigan is about to become a modern village green in the town of Lexington, Massachusetts over 245 years ago.

The police will not react well to being blocked from entering the shop to serve Manke with a violation. Just as the British did, the 22 member police force of Owosso will seek to respond with overwhelming force calling on support from the State Police as the Sheriff’s Office of Shiawassee County has said they will sit this one out.

Such ramping up of force will result on more people – more militia and supporters of Manke and what they see him standing for – to descend upon the town. Crowds will grow. Police will bring in more tactical gear and equipment. They will demand that crowds disburse and even perhaps call the assembled mob “villains” and lawbreakers as Governor Whitmer has done.

The powder keg is set and all it will take is a spark to set it off.

We certainly hope and pray it does not come to armed confrontations. After all, we are all Americans. We should be on the same side on the issue of freedom and how it applies in our everyday lives. We should remember that this would be “family on family” violence and not “Americans vs Britain” as it was in 1775.

Still, we are hearing and seeing more and more cries of “tyranny” and “tyrants,” which sound familiar in that the British Crown and local governments were called tyrants back in the day. While we do not believe that certain actors and governments here in the US are deliberately tyrannical or tyrants, we do believe that they have forgotten the idea of freedoms and rights.

Perhaps it is because they have not stood on the greens awaiting the arrival of armed men wanting to take away those freedoms, rights and property.

Perhaps they don’t understand the sacrifice men and women have paid to protect those rights and freedoms.

Or perhaps they hold that freedom is something cheap, malleable and subject to the demands of some, rather than the rights of the masses.

We are struck by the fact that in Thomas Paine’s “The Crisis,” he wrote in 1776:

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

We hope and pray that sentiment does not need to be tested and proved in Owosso, Michigan – or anywhere in the United States.

We just have this horrible mental image of police in riot gear with armored cars rolling down the streets of Owosso, attacking fellow citizens over a 77 year old man’s barbershop and his desire and freedom to make a living.

(h/t to William Teach over at the Pirate’s Cove and other sites who have been covering this.)

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