The Dallas salon owner who was jailed for refusing to close her business during the coronavirus pandemic has described her two-day stint in lock-up as ‘not pleasant’ – but says she doesn’t regret the decisions that landed her there.
Shelley Luther spoke to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night, hours after she walked free from the Lew Sterrett Justice Center after the Texas Supreme Court ordered her release.
The owner of Salon A La Mode was sentenced to seven days in jail on Tuesday for refusing to shut down her business in accordance with the state’s stay-at-home orders.
District Judge Eric Moye, who handed down the sentence, had given Luther the option of avoiding jail if she apologized for what he described as her ‘selfish’ behavior, paid a fine and kept her doors closed until salon restrictions were lifted.
But Luther didn’t agree to those terms, and on Thursday she told Hannity she stands by that decision.
‘That was the last thing I was going to do, honestly,’ she said. ‘I just couldn’t, I couldn’t bring myself to apologize.’
Shelley Luther, the Dallas salon owner who was jailed for refusing to close her business during the coronavirus pandemic, described her two-day stint in lock-up as ‘not pleasant’ in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night
The interview came hours after Luther walked free from the Lew Sterrett Justice Center after the Texas Supreme Court ordered her release
Luther said the two days she spent in jail were ‘not pleasant’ – in part because she was lonely in her cell.
‘The worst thing was that I didn’t get to call anybody when I got there, the whole first night,’ she said.
‘And that’s kind of scary, because I have a daughter that just turned 17 at home, and if my boyfriend wasn’t there to tell, you know, to talk to her or anything, I would not have come home and she would not have known where I was.’
Luther, the owner of Salon A La Mode, was sentenced to seven days in jail on Tuesday for refusing to shut down her business in accordance with the state’s stay-at-home orders. She is pictured in her mugshot
Luther complied with the shutdown orders when they were first handed down on March 22, but after weeks of seeing them extended again and again, she grew frustrated.
‘The Dallas County Judge, Clay Jenkins, kept pushing back the date of when we would open weeks out in advance, before we would hear any new comings of what was going on with masks or whatever,’ she said.
‘When he finally pushed it back a final time I just woke up one day and I said: “I have to open, my stylists are calling me, they’re not making their mortgage. I’m two months behind on my mortgage.”
‘My stylists were telling me that they wanted [to go] underground and go to people’s houses,’ she continued. ‘I just said: “You know, that’s not a good idea because we can’t control the environment there. We don’t know if it’s been disinfected or anything like that,” and I just decided I would open.’
On April 24 Luther reopened her salon in defiance of the stay-at-home order. She insisted that the salon instituted strict sanitation and social distancing measures at the time.
She said the stylists tried use gloves at first, but found that they couldn’t work with them on.
‘But,’ she said, ‘we made sure that I had no clients waiting inside the salon at all. I had chairs six feet apart outside of the salon, and when the stylist was ready and wearing a mask – we didn’t let any clients come in without a mask — they instantly sanitized their hands, the hairstylist sanitized their hands. They came in, they did the cut and that person left.’
Luther pictured being issued a citation by Dallas City officials on April 24
She received multiple citations for opening her business against the state orders – including a cease and desist letter from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on April 24.
The following day at an Open Texas rally to reopen businesses in Frisco, Texas, she was seen ripping the letter into pieces before a cheering crowd.
She then received a court-issued temporary restraining order on April 28 mandating she close her business.
Luther continued to defy the court orders and shared a Facebook Live video last week saying she intended to remain fully open and that it was her right to.
‘I’m still here, I’m standing for your rights and Salon A La Mode is open for business,’ she said.
Luther argued that her business needs to be open because her hairstylists need to work to provide for their families.
She also said her salon is a safe and clean environment that doesn’t pose a threat in spreading COVID-19.
Judge Moyé found Luther in criminal and civil contempt of court and offered her the opportunity to avoid jail if she apologized for ‘being selfish’.
She refused to admit that she did anything wrong, telling the judge: ‘I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I am selfish because feeding my kids is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids. So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids being fed, then please go ahead with your decision. But I’m not going to shut the salon.’
‘The defiance of the court’s order was open, flagrant and intentional,’ Moyé wrote in his decision.
‘The defendants, although having been given an opportunity to do so, have expressed no contrition, remorse or regret for their contemptuous action.’
Luther is seen speaking at the Open Texas rally in Frisco on April 25. During the rally she ripped up the citation the state issued her for opening her salon
Luther’s case has become a symbol for the divide ravaging America as protesters defy stay-at-home orders to march on capitol buildings demanding an end to lockdowns, which they say quashes their liberty and irreparably damages businesses, jobs and the economy.
Shelley Luther vs Texas’s stay-at-home order
April 24 – Shelley Luther defies Texas stay-at-home order and reopens Salon A La Mode. She is given a cease and desist letter from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
April 25 – Luther attends an Open Texas protest in Frisco and is seen ripping the judge’s letter into pieces before a cheering crowd.
April 25 – Luther receives a court-issued temporary restraining order mandating she close her business.
May 5 – Luther appears in court where she is sentenced to seven days behind bars for repeatedly defying stay-at-home restrictions and court orders to shutter her business.
May 6 – Senior state officials including Gov. Abbott call for her release and protesters gather outside the Dallas Municipal Court building Wednesday.
May 7 – Gov. Abbott amends his executive order removing confinement as a punishment for non-compliance. Texas Supreme Court then orders Luther’s release. Luther walks free from prison to crowds of supporters.
The move to put her behind bars sparked an outcry from senior state officials and anti-lockdown protesters who demanded that she be freed.
It took the Supreme Court wading into the matter for that to happen.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott amended his executive order Thursday morning, removing the possibility for citizens to be imprisoned for violating stay-at-home orders.
His amendment applied to sentencing backdated to April 2.
There have been at least 36,000 cases of coronavirus in Texas and 985 deaths.
The governor had slammed State District Judge Eric Moyé’s decision to imprison Luther and joined calls for her to be released.
‘Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,’ he said in a statement Thursday morning.
‘That is why I am modifying my executive orders to ensure confinement is not a punishment for violating an order.’
Abbott named the salon owner in the announcement saying his order ‘supersedes local orders and if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther.’
Luther walked out of the Lew Sterrett Justice Center to a hero’s welcome from crowds of supporters who had gathered demanding her release.
Crowds cheered ‘Shelley’s free!’ and clapped as she stepped out of the jail, with many waving banners and holding balloons.
The emotional salon owner choked back tears as she thanked the crowds and said she was ‘overwhelmed’ by their support.
Luther walks out of the Lew Sterrett Justice Center on Thursday above
Luther teared up as she was given a hero’s welcome when she emerged from jail on Thursday
The emotional salon owner hugged supporters gathered outside the jail where she has been serving her sentence in isolation and protective custody for the last two days
Supporters gathered outside the Justice Center to welcome Luther on her release. Luther also gained support from several senior state officials who condemned the judge’s decision to imprison her