LANSING, Mich. (Great Lakes News) – A judge dismissed criminal charges against a group of Michigan hairdressers on Monday morning.

The charges stemmed from the “Operation Haircut” protest at the Lansing Capitol last May. Beauticians and at least one barber offered free trims. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down the industry in March, citing coronavirus concerns, and did not reopen it until June 15th.

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District Court Judge Kristen Simmons’ dismissal begs the question why Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel did not drop the charges after an October Michigan Supreme Court ruling. The court ruled the 1945 and a 1976 laws that Gov. Whitmer used as the basis of her extended lockdown orders were unconstitutional.

Attorney David Kallman represented six of the seven hairdressers. He said the Nessel’s actions, “have a chilling effect on free speech.”

Kallman has also represented Karl Manke. The Shiawassee County barber decided to reopen his shop in May after saying he could not afford to stay closed. His move garnered national attention. Manke eventually saw his charges dropped as well though licensing hearings remain for him and the hairdressers.

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“It’s a terrible thing when the government can start clamping down on people and making people afraid to speak out,” Kallman said. “[People may think] even if I do it peaceably and within the confines of the law I might lose my job.”