Police hang “closed” sign on gym door. Owner replaces it with the Bill of Rights and opens up shop.

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PICKENS, SC – A local gym owner in Pickens has been reopening his gym in contrast with state Governor Henry McMaster’s executive order shutting down non-essential businesses in light of COVID-19.

Gyms happened to be included in that shutdown order.

Yet, this business owner says the Constitution gives him all the authority he needs to keep his gym open.

Larry Holliday operates the Fitness 365 gym based out of Pickens..

He’s recently had a few visits from the Pickens Police Department over keeping his gym doors open to the members who so decide to utilize the facility.

Thus far, units have been dispatched to the gym on May 12th and 13th, informing all the patrons inside the gym that they needed to leave the premises. Thereafter, officers placed signage upon the door noting that the business is closed until May 18th due to the governor’s orders.

Holliday promptly replaced said sign notifying the public that the gym is “closed” with a copy of the Bill of Rights.

He, once again, opened his gym.

Holliday is cognizant of the ongoing pandemic, but he’s among the population of folks that are beginning to see the “cure” become more detrimental than that of the pandemic itself:

“I understand that we do have a health crisis in this country, there’s no doubt about that. [There are] people dying, but there’s also people dying because of what has happened, what this has caused financially, and other ways.

I just feel like it’s time to take a stand.”

The gym owner is all too aware of Governor McMaster’s executive order that has closed numerous businesses within the state. While the closure of businesses like gyms and nail salons will be lifted come May 18th, Holliday feels that the rights of American’s have been suspended long enough:

“We have great gym members here, and they’re just ready to get out and they’re wanting to come in and so we’re just here for them. It makes me sick as an American citizen to see our rights trampled on.”

The Pickens Police Department released a statement in response to the stand being taken by Holliday:

“Police officers will inform citizens violating any executive order that they must disperse or cease their behavior. If the warning is ignored, citizens may be issued a citation in accordance with S.C. Code § 16-7-10 and fined up to $257.50.

Owners of businesses are also subject to a citation and fine if they violate any executive order issued by the Governor of South Carolina.”

Despite the warnings delivered by the local police pertaining to the governor’s orders, Holliday intends to keep his gym open as long as possible.

Frankie Shelton, who is the general manager at the Pickens Fitness 365, took to Facebook to give her support for the gym’s owner recently:

“I have always thought so much of Larry Holliday and all that he gives to our clients and us as staff!

Today this man got fed up with our constitutional rights being stripped away from us. He stood his ground and I am so proud to call him not only my boss .. but my friend!”

Shelton had reached out in a subsequent post to Deputy David Harrison from the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, who is actively running for sheriff of the county, to gather his thoughts on what she described as “McMaster’s illegal orders” that have shut down small businesses.

Deputy Harrison responded to the post, commenting the following:

“I believe it’s a shame what ALL small business owners are going through. I fully support you guys 100%!!”

Well, that’s certainly one way to garner support for an upcoming election for sheriff.

In the meantime, have you been following what’s going on with the barber in Lansing, Michigan? 

An attorney recently described actions taken by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the state AG as “petty” and “vindictive,” after the state suspended a 77-year-old’s license to operate a barber shop without due process.

His egregious offense was simply trying to get back to cutting hair.

Karl Manke decided it was time to reopen shop after he’d been turned down for unemployment. He’d gone weeks without a means to make his living, and he feels as though he has every right to earn an honest dollar:

“I’d gone six weeks without a paycheck with no money coming in. I’ve been in this business 59 years…I’m 77. I’ve always worked”

Despite threats coming from Whitmer’s administration, he reopened his doors for those willing to get a trim inside his shop. Manke holds himself as the type to get things done without asking for help from the government:

“I’ve never looked for handouts. I don’t even know what they are. I had somebody call me and say why don’t you get on food stamps. I don’t want to get on food stamps. I want to work.”

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To the surprise of Manke, he actually amassed quite a bit of support from the locals in the stance he took against Whitmer’s executive orders that have seen small businesses shut down for weeks:

“I came into this last Monday alone, thinking I’m going to swing in the wind alone. I cannot believe the support that I’ve got.”

When asked by a local news crew about his take on violating the executive orders handed down from the governor’s office, Manke responded with the following:

“I’m 77. What, are they going to give me? Life? I’ve got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. I could care less.”

It was only a matter of time before the media caught wind of the story of this defiant barber. During a press conference, a reporter asked about the situation involving Manke’s shop to Governor Whitmer. In response, Whitmer noted the following:

“I expect people to follow the law. These executive orders are not a suggestion. They’re not optional. They’re not helpful hints.”

At this point it’s becoming difficult to tell the difference between Judge Dredd’s infamous catchphrase “I am the law” and a Governor Whitmer press conference.

Whitmer’s administration is now entrenched in a legal battle against this 77-year-old barber. The state’s Attorney General’s Office released this statement after they failed to secure a temporary restraining order against Manke by way of a hearing within the Shiawassee County Circuit Court:

“The Attorney General’s court action, filed on behalf of MDHHS, seeks to enforce the MDHHS Director’s Public Health Order that deemed Mr. Manke’s business an imminent danger to public health in light of the COVID 19 pandemic and directs him to immediately cease operations at his barbershop.

The State is seeking to schedule a hearing as soon as possible.”

Yet, there was one trick up the sleeve of Whitmer’s administration that Manke and others didn’t see coming. On May 12th, he found that his businesses license was stripped.

Attorney David Kallman spoke with radio show host Steve Gruber about the unexpected power play:

“Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has suspended Karl’s license.”

Apparently, this suspension was done devoid of any sort of due process:

“Not thinking about it, they’ve actually done it without a hearing, without any due process.”

Kallmen described the actions taken against the elderly barber as an “unbelievable abuse of power,” noting that there simply wasn’t any sort of legal basis to commit such an act:

“This is pure retribution by the governor’s office and by the AG. This is so petty and vindictive, it’s beyond the pale.”

Whatever comes of this case, the actions will not exactly garner any “liability” points for the governor. It will be interesting to see the outcome as more citizens and law firms start bringing these executive orders to court.

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