District Court Judge Kristen D. Simmons on Monday dismissed all criminal charges filed by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office against six hairstylists who participated in Operation Haircut in May.
More than 400 Michiganders showed up for “free” haircuts, a service Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration had deemed “nonessential.”
The hairstylists were protesting Whitmer’s executive orders and supporting Owosso barber Karl Manke, who had his barber license revoked by the state for violating the shutdown order.
Roughly 15 hairstylists were cutting hair at the Capitol that day, yet only seven were criminally prosecuted for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500 if convicted.
Kallman Legal Group represented six of the protestors, who are still facing administrative licensing complaints.
Arlene Thornton, one of the haircutters, was working behind a face shield when Michigan State Police warned her she could be fined for disorderly conduct.
Thornton said she’d already been out of work for two months and had driven an hour and a half to get to the Lansing protest and kept working.
“I did the best that I could,” she said.
In October, the Michigan Supreme Court tossed Whitmer’s orders issued after April 30, saying they “lack any basis under Michigan law.”
But Nessel didn’t dismiss the criminal charges against Danielle Ashcraft, Suzanne Dodoro, Londa Gatt, Angela Rigas, Brenda Root, and Rachel Sheeran.
The motion requested dismissal based upon First Amendment and due process constitutional violations.
“Our clients are pleased that Judge Simmons recognized and upheld their constitutional rights. It is a relief that they no longer face the prospect of having a criminal record and potential jail time for merely exercising their right to peaceably speak out,” Attorney David A. Kallman said in a statement.
“If a person protests certain issues, the Governor will ignore her own orders and walk with you; but if a person protests the Governor, she will prosecute you and attempt to destroy your business. Kallman Legal Group will always vigorously defend everyone’s right to protest and engage in free speech, no matter the issue.”
Those six aren’t alone.
Thousands of criminal charges under Whitmer’s orders have been dismissed.
Gary Marshall, owner of FitStop24 in Niles and Dowagiac, reopened three months before Whitmer allowed gyms to open and was fined $18,000 and charged with 30 misdemeanors, All of those charges were dropped.
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