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Michigan Conservative Coalition hosts 'Operation Haircut' protest in support of small businesses

May 20, 2020
<p>A crowd listens to a speaker at the protest at the Capitol on May 14, 2020 in Lansing.</p>

A crowd listens to a speaker at the protest at the Capitol on May 14, 2020 in Lansing.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

In response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order, another protest is set to happen at the Michigan Capitol on Wednesday at noon. "Operation Haircut" is being hosted by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, or MCC, which also organized “Operation Gridlock."

The protest is said to be in support of barber Karl Manke from Owosso, Michigan who reopened his shop May 4 in resistance to the governor's executive order and was served a license suspension, according to the event’s Facebook page

“We've never had a situation like this in the state before,” said Marian Sheridan, co-founder of MCC. “We don't want to have a protest just to have a protest, but this was something that we thought was very reflective of a small business that is capable of opening and needs to open.” 

Sheridan, Oakland County resident, said even though the governor is beginning to reopen certain regions and businesses across the state, she wants Whitmer to speed up the process.

“Citizens across our state now have become more fearful of losing their livelihood and their constitutional rights than they have of contracting COVID-19,” Sheridan said. 

At the protest, participants will be able to receive services from hairstylists, pet groomers and massage therapists present at the event.

MCC co-founder Meshawn Maddock said the barbering industry is just one example. She said MCC chose this theme to send a message that many are afraid to open their small businesses right now because they risk losing their license.

“These people have proven that they can safely do their job and that’s what we’re talking about,” Maddock said. “Opening Michigan up safely — we believe that’s something you can do right now.”

Also a resident of Oakland County, Maddock said they are trying to draw attention to people in Michigan who are currently unemployed and “the devastation this has had on small businesses and workers.”

“This protest is a peaceful protest,” Maddock said. “We can't help it when different factions or different groups show up at the Capitol, they're exercising their First Amendment rights. But this protest is not about guns, this protest is not about politics, although you will see Trump supporters, because like I said, people will be people, they're going to show up to support what they want to support.” 

Hairstylist Suzanne Dodoro from Holly, Michigan said she has owned two hair salons and has been licensed since 1990. Dodoro wanted to support Manke and other hairstylists but more importantly, the opening up of small businesses in Michigan.

“We're going to be as careful as possible,” Dodoro said. “We're going to be respectful and not going to be leaving hair all over the place ... We're just going to try to keep it as clean as possible. But that's the thing, salons are clean. We're constantly washing.”

Dodoro said her hopes with the protest is to help people “see what’s really going on” and to persuade the governor to not restrict residents too much.

“I feel like people in our state are starting to realize that this is not just about a virus, that it is a restriction of our freedom,” Dodoro said. “Now it seems more political than anything.”

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