Michigan Anti-Lockdown Protesters Fined After Swapping Guns for Scissors at 'Operation Haircut' Demonstration

Conservative protestors gathered outside Michigan's Capitol building in Lansing on Wednesday to stage haircuts in defiance of state lockdown restrictions intended to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has riled many conservatives by continuing to maintain restrictions that prevent nonessential businesses like barbershops and salons from lawfully operating as the virus continues to spread. Protesters in the "Operation Haircut" demonstration, organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, openly flouted the restrictions on Wednesday by offering free haircuts.

Some demonstrators giving the haircuts were issued with $500 disorderly conduct tickets, according to WJBK.

The event's organizers posted "rules" for the protest to social media before the event, including suggestions that stylists bring and use personal protective equipment (PPE) and maintain "social distancing" during the haircuts. It is unclear how haircuts can be conducted under social distancing guidelines, which requires six feet of distance between people.

Videos and pictures of the event show some stylists cutting hair without wearing gloves or masks, which few gathered at the capitol appeared to be using.

"Michigan's small business owners are patriotic and law-abiding citizens, but enough is enough. Our Governor's actions show every day that this is no longer about the China virus. Her actions show this is now about a progressive radical agenda," said the coalition's co-founder Marian Sheridan in a statement. "Dope shops are open, abortion mills churn on, but barber shops are, somehow, unsafe. Show us that 'science,' Governor!"

Operation Haircut Protest
Protestors stage haircuts in defiance of lockdown restrictions amid COVID-19 during the "Operation Haircut" demonstration at the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan on May 20, 2020. JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty

The group also organized the state's "Operation Gridlock" on April 15, which saw armed protesters line up outside the capitol and unsuccessfully demand that Whitmer reopen the state, while chanting "lock her up." President Donald Trump signaled his apparent support for the protest by tweeting "LIBERATE MICHIGAN" two days later.

Later in April, a different group of armed protestors, some of whom were wielding confederate flags and Nazi symbols, stormed the Michigan Capitol building to demand that Whitmer end the lockdown restrictions.

The protest "depicted some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history in this country," Whitmer told CNN on May 3. "You know the Confederate flags and nooses, the swastikas... the behavior that you've seen in all of the clips is not representative of who we are in Michigan."

A poll released Wednesday found that 68.7 percent of Michigan voters believe the protests "send the wrong message." The poll suggested the protestors represent a clear minority in believing that Michigan should open more quickly, with 65.5 percent of respondents saying that the state is opening at either the right speed or too fast. Whitmer also personally received high marks despite the protests, with 63.7 approving of her handling of the pandemic.

"The more people are moving about and flouting the law, the harder it's going to be turn the dial and take the next step," Whitmer told reporters when asked about the protest on Wednesday, according to WWMT. "In the midst of a global pandemic, what I ask is that people do so in a way that does not expose themselves or others to a prolonged public health crisis."

Newsweek reached out to Whitmer's office for additional comment. This article will be updated with any response.