A Michigan sheriff is receiving national attention after questioning the governor’s lockdown orders and saying his office doesn’t have the resources to enforce restrictions on non-essential businesses and citizens leaving their homes.
The comments by Shiawassee County Sheriff Brian BeGole, made in a press release but also posted on Facebook, have gone viral – especially in light of a barbershop in his county that is defying orders of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by opening.
Sheriffs’ offices in at least six Michigan counties have said they won’t enforce Whitmer’s orders, the Detroit News reported.
“The women and men of the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Office have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Michigan,” BeGole said. “Through this period of uncertainty, I continue to remind myself that we derive our authority from the consent of the governed, the great people of Michigan.”
The legality of Whitmer’s orders, he said, is a “judicial branch determination.” The state legislature, he said, “did not extend the state of emergency beyond April 30 as required by law.”
“I have decided, within my authority, that our office cannot and will not divert our primary resources and efforts toward enforcement of Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders,” BeGole said. “I want to remind everyone that the eyes of this state and even the nation are focused on our community. I’m asking you to remain calm, peaceful and considerate of all people as we wait for the courts to rule.”
His Facebook post received 1,600 likes, while more than 850 people signaled they “loved” it and about 90 signaled they were angered by the post.
Meanwhile, Karl Manke, a 77-year-old owner of a barbershop in Owosso, Mich., is cutting hair in defiance of Whitmer’s orders. Salons and barbers are not considered essential by the state.
“I feel the governor is not my mother, never has been,” Manke said. “As a matter of fact, this administration, for the most part, I’ve been in business longer than they’ve been alive.”
Manke has received citations by city police, although a county circuit judge refused a request by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to issue a temporary restraining order against Manke. A GoFundMe account set up for the barber has raised more than $18,000.
He said he will fight the restrictions “until Jesus comes.”
Whitmer is urging businesses to follow her orders.
“Most businesses in the state have a license that is granted from the state, and they are putting themselves at risk by putting their customers and themselves at risk by opening prematurely,” Whitmer said, according to the Detroit News.
“We need to stay the course and do this in a smart way, and everyone needs to continue doing their part. The devastation from a second wave could dwarf the hardship that we’ve already encountered.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kaybe, this is a stock image.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.