Shelley Luther, a Texas salon owner who defied coronavirus stay-at-home regulations, is being released from jail.
In a Thursday morning tweet, Gov. Greg Abbott said her punishment was unjust. He said he’s “eliminating jail for violating an order, retroactive to April 2, superseding local orders.
“Criminals shouldn’t be released to prevent COVID-19 just to put business owners in their place,” he tweeted.
He added that putting Texans in jail whose businesses shut down “through no fault of their own is wrong.”
Court documents show that Luther’s release was ordered by the Texas Supreme Court on Thursday morning after she was jailed on Tuesday.
“The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a letter to District Judge Eric Moyé. “His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately.
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“As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option.”
Many are critical of the decision to let Luther go free, with one person tweeting back to Abbott: “Tell Karen to follow the rules like the rest of us.”
“You are endangering the welfare of all Texans,” another commented.
Luther, who also runs Hot Mess Enterprises, openly tore up her cease and desist order last week at an anti-lockdown event called “Open Texas.”
Anti-lockdown activists in the United States have rallied to Luther’s cause, and a GoFundMe page to help her business has raised more than US$273,000 to date.
The page describes the hair salon owner as an “American Hero.”
— With files from Global News reporter Josh K. Elliott
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