LANSING, Mich. — Lawyers representing hairstylists across the state held a news conference at the State Capitol Monday afternoon responding to tickets issued during "Operation Haircut," the event that brought thousands to the Capitol lawn when barbershops were shut down.
During the "Operation Haircut" event, at least seven hairstylists were issued tickets for cutting hair, defying the governor's executive order.
David Kallman and Stephen Kallman, of Kallman Legal Group, PLLC, represent six of the defendants.
The attorneys say the stylists were exercising their first amendment rights of peaceful protest and the freedom to bring grievances before the government.
“Forcing unemployed citizens into a court process because they dared to express their First Amendment rights is not what Michiganders expect from their government,” said Kallman.
“If a person protests certain issues, the Governor will ignore her own ‘order’ and walk with you. But if a person protests the Governor, she’ll prosecute you and attempt to destroy your business. Kallman Legal Group will vigorously defend everyone’s right to protest and engage in free speech, no matter the issue,” said Kallman.
One local stylist said she thinks these rights were violated by the citations.
"We were cited at a protest for disorderly conduct and that's a violation of our First Amendment rights. We have the freedom of speech. We have the freedom to assemble. We have the freedom to bring grievance against the government. No Executive Order can rule over that," said Angela Rigas.
Stylists stressed that they're required to train for 1,800 hours before receiving their license. This includes training in sanitation practices, which they say allows them to assess health risks without government input.
"Our licensing includes many, many hours of sanitation and 'bacteriology.' We know how to keep things clean. We know how to keep people safe and for the governor, who knows nothing about the hair industry to rule that we are unsafe to work is quite ignorant," Rigas said.
Governor Whitmer has since lifted her restriction on barbershops and salons, allowing them to reopen last Monday as the state continues to slowly reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic.
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