Salon owners defying COVID orders slam cops for humiliation: ‘They treated it like a drug raid’

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The owners of a hair salon in Stockton, Calif., are blasting state law enforcement after officers raided their business for operating in violation of COVID-19 shutdown orders.

Officers with the Department of Consumer Affairs enforcement division rushed into Pomp Hair Salon on Wednesday, which was full of customers and stylists at the time.

Earlier this month as new coronavirus cases spiked, the state Board of Barbering and Cosmetology ordered salons and barbershops to shutter until the first week of January.

The husband-and-wife co-owners of the salon, Vicki Kirk and Dino Ballin, said the incident was extremely humiliating to them.

“About five armed state police officers burst into our salon shouting drop everything you’re doing. Stop, you’re being shut down,” Kirk told local ABC10.

“They burst into our salon and they treated it like a drug raid,” she added in an interview with KTXL.

She went on to note that the officers spent about an hour at the seven-year-old salon asking questions including why she and her husband defied the shutdown order.

But, according to video taken by Kirk, many of her 40 stylists working at the time also began challenging the officers with questions of their own, ABC10 reported.

“It was one of the worst days of my life to have that scene happen in our salon when we are only trying to work,” Kirk told the local outlet.

Kirk said what added to her anger and confusion over the raid is that just two days earlier, a state inspector visited the salon to ensure that proper safety protocols were being followed.

“She said it looked like we were doing a good job and she left,” Kirk explained.

Nevertheless, the Department of Consumer Affairs officers issued the salon a trio of misdemeanor citations, though Kirk and Ballin chose to keep the salon open after the officers left.

“Why does a hair salon have to close, but Target can stay open and Walmart can stay open? Where’s the connection? And, what’s the specific infection rate you’re attributing to these salons?” Ballin told ABC10.

Over the summer when the state issued shutdown orders for salons, Ballin said he, his wife closed their business and went on vacation. But he said after receiving several texts from stylists pleading with him to reopen because they were nearly penniless, they decided to do so.

“These stylists were promised assistance by the government that they never got. In some cases, some of my stylists downstairs, still to this day, have not gotten any assistance since March, since the closures in March,” Ballin said.

In a statement to ABC10, the department said: “The Board has conducted approximately 14,000 inspections at licensed establishments since the beginning of the pandemic. Any establishment that doesn’t comply with the public health orders that have been put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 may be subject to disciplinary action. Licensees that violate public health orders may be subject to disciplinary action against their license.”

Only one other salon — Primo’s Barbershop in Vacaville — has been cited by the department for violating coronavirus restrictions.

Officials with the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office told the outlet that they had not been contacted prior to the raid. Officials also made it sound as though the DA isn’t much interested in pursuing the misdemeanor charges.

“It appears that the Department of Consumer Affairs took it upon their own initiative to do a surprise raid on Pomp Salon in Lincoln Center,” said a statement to ABC10.

“The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office was not notified of this raid in advance and in no way participated or sanctioned it. To our knowledge, no other salons or businesses were targeted in the county,” the statement continued.

The salon owners said they’re going to keep their doors open.

“We just want to keep our homes. We just want to feed our families,” said Kirk.

Jon Dougherty

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