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MCPHERSON — Luke Aichele opened up his McPherson barber shop a bit too early under a multi-phase plan created by Gov. Laura Kelly to reopen the state as Kansas fights the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the plan, barber shops and hair salons were not to open until at least May 18.
Aichele started cutting hair at Luke’s Barber Shop while state mandates kept barber shops and hair salons closed. That resulted in an arrest warrant — and community outrage.
The McPherson County 911 dispatch center began fielding calls about the arrest Friday, enough calls that the center posted a plea for the calls to stop on Facebook.
"It has come to our attention (due to MULTIPLE callers to the dispatch center) that there was a warrant issue surrounding a local business owner today. Just by looking at some of the posts on Facebook, some of you are EXTREMELY upset about this," the center wrote. "... We'd like you to direct your complaints to the County Attorney's Office. 620-241-1027. They aren't there right now, but you can leave a message asking for a call back."
The warrant was rescinded later that day, though the public response continued.
The arrest drew the attention of candidates for the U.S. Senate race.
Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle and U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall — both running for U.S. Senate — chimed in Saturday after Aichele wrote about his troubles Friday on Facebook.
"Luke can’t apply for unemployment and he is simply trying to feed his family," Wagle wrote. "The chairs in his shop are six feet apart and barbers and hair stylists comply with strict safety regulations. It’s immoral to prevent those who want to work safely, with social distancing, from doing so. Open up Kansas now."
Marshall wrote in a statement that Aichele has not been able to access unemployment and said that led to Aichele taking action.
"[Aichele] is the only breadwinner in his household — he is still not able to access unemployment benefits due to the delay and failures of the current administration in Topeka, even though the federal government made those benefits available a long time ago," Marshall wrote. "I was raised by a Chief of Police. I was raised to respect the law. But I was also raised with basic common sense. Telling someone they cannot work to feed their family, offering them no help, and then threatening their arrest if they safely try to earn a living is wrong."