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June 16, 2021

Exposing Michigan’s Thuggish Attorney General

A recently revealed email exchange shows just how malicious Michigan’s Dana Nessel can be.

Marlena Pavlos-Hackney knows statist tyranny when she sees it. As a teenager, she fled Polish communism to start a new life in a foreign land, the United States. That’s in large part why she has more guts, more moxy, and more Liberty-loving spirit than most of her fellow Americans.

It’s also why she was arrested before 6 a.m. on March 19 and taken to jail in ankle shackles and wrist cuffs. She’s the proprietor of a small business — Marlena’s Bistro and Pizzeria — in the West Michigan town of Holland, and she’d had the nerve to defy the draconian lockdown orders of Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer. Worse yet, she’d decided two days earlier, on March 17, to tell her story of resistance to Fox News’s Tucker Carlson.

Hackney’s defiance was clearly too much for the state’s leftist attorney general, Dana Nessel, who, after learning of her plans to appear on Carlson’s show, wrote in a March 12 email to her staff, “Do we know her whereabouts? We should just have her picked up before she goes on. This is outrageous.”

It is outrageous, because Nessel is a purveyor of precisely the kind of authoritarianism that Hackney warns us about. And were it not for a Freedom of Information Act request sought by The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, we’d never have known about the AG’s thuggery, even after three months. “Should I be prepared to respond to this?” asked Nessel in an email thread that followed. “I hope she gets the full 93 days [in jail] for this.” And in another exchange, she showed just how obsessed she was with this single private citizen in a state of 10 million: “Does [the Michigan State Police] intend to go find her? Or are they planning to wait until next week?”

Much to Nessel’s chagrin, Hackney was released a few days later. But that’s neither here nor there. Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokeswoman for Nessel’s office, released the following statement in response to the revelation of her boss’s brutish email exchange:

Ms. Pavlos-Hackney willfully violated the state’s food laws, public health orders and orders of the court — a dangerous act that may have exposed dozens of diners and employees to the virus following the discovery that one of Marlena’s customers tested positive for the virus within two days of eating there. Ms. Pavlos-Hackney’s decision to then go on national television and flaunt her noncompliance compromised the state’s ability to protect public safety during a global pandemic and likely emboldened others to break the law.

Someone should’ve told Nessel that arbitrary lockdowns and onerous masking requirements don’t work and aren’t legitimate — that all they do is crush law-abiding, Constitution-loving citizens and small business owners like Hackney.

Indeed, there’s a small sign that’s posted on the front window of Hackney’s bistro. It reads, “Welcome. We are a Constitutionally Compliant Business. We are not infringing on anyone’s inalienable rights. By law, we do not follow any of the governor’s, mayor’s, health department’s, or other government agency orders or suggestions pertaining to social distancing or mask-wearing.”

Dana Nessel will claim otherwise, but Hackney was thrown in jail for daring to speak out against what she saw as an oppressive and overreaching government. “This was never going to end with censorship on social media,” Carlson noted recently. “If they can control what you write, why can’t they control what you say and think and do? Why can’t they throw you behind bars if you disagree with them or criticize their policies? They can — and as Dana Nessel proved — they will.”

Leave it to Marlena Pavlos-Hackney, a grateful immigrant who fled communist tyranny and came to our shores as a child, to remind us that we have a Constitution and individual liberties well worth fighting for.

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