Dan Bongino helps tattoo artist arrested for defying shutdown order, vows to help other business owners

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Conservative talk show host and former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino vowed to help a North Carolina tattoo parlor owner after he was arrested last week for opening his business in defiance of ongoing coronavirus-related shutdown orders.

“I wish I could help every one of these patriots, who are desperately trying to feed their kids and keep their businesses afloat. But I’m going to help as many as I can. I’ll have the owner of this business on my show this week and I’ll be making an announcement. #TattooTime,” Bongino tweeted on Sunday.

https://twitter.com/dbongino/status/1257067538493648903

In a subsequent tweet, Bongino added, “This is a disgrace. I’ll be getting a tattoo from this man as soon as he’s ready.

According to various reports, Matthew “Jax” Myers opened his parlor on Wednesday and was immediately taken into custody by police.

Myers was arrested for defying Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) executive order directing “non-essential” businesses — like tattoo parlors, apparently — to remain closed to ‘bend the curve’ of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Jax was arrested in protest today,” says a Facebook post on the shop’s official page. “He wanted me to post this in the actual event to let all know he never intended harm to anyone, but he himself and our family is struggling and he wasn’t just gonna stand and do nothing. God bless you all and thanks to all our supporters.”

Myers, 38, who has owned Apex Tattoo Factory for eight years, said he resisted the shutdown order because he’s struggling financially and was concerned that he would lose his business permanently.

Reports noted that Myers posted on Facebook that he would be opening his shop. Some people who saw the post reportedly notified police. Officers from the Apex Police Department then contacted the tattoo shop owner after receiving word he planned to open in order to notify him of the order that prohibited such action.

Myers opened his shop at 1 p.m. Wednesday and was arrested within 10 minutes for violating the governor’s stay-at-home order.

The shop owner was charged with violating “Emergency Prohibitions and Restrictions,” a state statute that carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 60 days in jail.

“While understanding of and generally cooperative with officers, he refused to come into compliance with the Proclamation and was subsequently arrested without further incident,” the Apex Police Department said in a statement.

“I respect the Apex Police Department. And it’s probably with the heaviest of heart of all that this has to happen in Apex,” Myer said, as reported by WRAL-TV. “I’m a law-abiding citizen. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Before arresting Myers, police offered him contact information for the Wake County Emergency Management Business Liaison to “discuss options,” but he said he attempted to obtain a small business loan as well as unemployment assistance, but was not approved for either one.

“When you can put a father of three in jail for opening his business because nobody will give me a loan, and let alone help me,” Myers said. “My own bank, nobody is helping us.”

Apex Mayor Jacques Gilbert, a retired Apex police captain, described Myers as “a good man.”

“Whatever the consequences are to his decision, I’m going to be there after it all and extend my hand to him and say, ‘I’m in this with you,’” he told WRAL. “And I support you and we’re going to get through this together.”

Myers’ wife, Amber, said, “He has spent years building up this business, and for it to be taken away after being shut down for so long would be horrible.”

The couple has been vocally opposed to Cooper’s stay-at-home order, having attended ReOpenNC protests recently in Raleigh.

Myers said he wasn’t going to tattoo anyone, that the opening of his shop “was in protest.” He added that he has no regrets and that he plans on attending more protests.

Cooper’s original stay-at-home order was set to expire April 29, but he extended it to May 9 claiming the state had “not yet seen a downward trajectory” in coronavirus infections.

He said the state will reopen in three stages, but personal care services — like tattooing — will not open until Phase two, which is currently being planned for late May-early June.

As of this writing, the state only has around 11,800 cases of the virus with roughly 430 deaths.

Myers’ arrest comes as Americans around the country are increasingly protesting against what they believe are overly restrictive lockdown orders, especially in states where the virus has not been — and will not be — prevalent.

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Jon Dougherty

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