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OWOSSO, Mich. (AP) — A Texas salon owner who was sent to jail for opening her business during the coronavirus outbreak called Michigan's governor a “tyrant” on Monday as she stood next to a barber whose license was suspended for cutting hair.
“Gretchen, the state of Michigan will vote you out,” Shelley Luther declared, referring to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Luther traveled to Owosso, a small Michigan town, to express support for Karl Manke, a 77-year-old barber who reopened his shop for more than a week before state regulators suspended his license.
Luther, the owner of Salon a la Mode in Dallas, was sentenced to a week in jail for flouting public health orders intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus. She was released less than 48 hours later when Gov. Greg Abbott dropped jail as a possible punishment for violations.
One of her first customers after jail was U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Luther told the crowd that she reopened to pay bills, support her employees and offer much-needed services in a clean salon.
"Why does your governor think that it's OK to open up for marijuana, liquor sales?” said Luther, whose boyfriend grew up an hour away in Frankenmuth. “Can't you get an abortion? But you cannot get your hair cut. What is wrong?
“Stop being a tyrant," Luther said of the governor. ”Open up. You don’t get this control. We control you. We have the power."
Whitmer has defended the business restrictions as an important way to stop the virus. She relented a bit Monday by announcing plans to reopen bars and restaurants Friday in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, which haven’t been hit as hard as the rest of Michigan.
Protesters, some bearing guns, have repeatedly traveled to the Capitol to demand the governor loosen a one-size-fits-all strategy. Republican lawmakers are suing Whitmer over her emergency declarations.
Since March, Michigan has confirmed nearly 52,000 virus cases, although more than 28,000 people have recovered. There have been at least 4,900 deaths from COVID-19 — the fourth-highest total in the nation — including 20 in Shiawassee County where Manke cuts hair.
Michigan is among many states that have enacted stay-home orders and imposed an array of restrictions on salons, bars and restaurants. Abbott on Monday lifted most restrictions in Texas as that state continues one of the nation’s fastest reboots.