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The owner of a New Jersey gym who opened in defiance of the state’s lockdown orders believes a “higher up” authority sent police back to issue a summons after initially giving him a warning.
The co-owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr spoke with Fox News host Tucker Carlson Monday about what happened following the reopening of the business in the face of Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order. Though police told owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, along with dozens of supporters, to “have a nice day” and left the gym open, authorities returned later and issued a disorderly conduct summons.
(Source: Fox News)
“I assume that they came back because they received an order from higher up,” Smith told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Monday.
Atilis Gym reopened to cheers with a crowd of supporters gathered Monday morning, following up on a vow by the owners last week to resume business with coronavirus safety guidelines, like social distancing and disinfecting, in place.
Though police did arrive to inform Smith and Trumbetti, as well as those gathered, that they were in violation of the Democrat governor’s statewide order, the gym was allowed to remain open and police left with advice to “stay safe.”
Fox News at NJ gym’s defiant opening: Crowd cheers as cop says they’re in violation, then walks away https://t.co/Qz90E64LcA
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) May 18, 2020
But the moment was short-lived as officers were sent back apparently by some higher authority, issuing a summons to the owners of the Camden County gym
Smith explained that he and Trumbetti received a summons for “violating a governor’s order” but added that “my attorney didn’t seem too ruffled up by it, and neither are Frank and I.”
Carlson suggested perhaps the Democrat governor may have “felt his personal integrity was on the line” and that “he couldn’t let you do this.”
Smith agreed, saying that was “certainly what it felt like.”
Meanwhile, Murphy addressed the violation during his daily news conference, threatening the business owners and anyone else who defies his lockdown orders.
“If you show up at that gym tomorrow, there’s going to be a different reality than showing today,” Murphy said. “I also don’t want to start World War 3.”
“I’m not concerned it will spiral out of control,” he added, looking to the gym opening on Tuesday. “We will take action.”
Trumbetti spoke with reporters Tuesday morning about how Murphy was trying to “flex” his authority, cautioning supporters and members of the gym to be prepared to be arrested if things reach that point.
UPDATE: 3 hrs before his Atilis Gym reopens for second day co-owner Frank Trumbetti nervously awaits action @GovMurphy strongly hinted to happen Gov said “We will take action. If you show at that gym tomorrow there’s gonna be a different reality.” @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/cqNe8idDuz
— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) May 19, 2020
Smith told Carlson that he appreciated the police help on Monday morning and that things had been “positive” most of the day.
“Moments earlier, probably a half hour earlier, we had that beautiful exchange with the officers that had been present all day and whom we’ve had nothing but great exchange with. It has been love and positive all day. With the exception of handing over a summons, it remained that way,” he said.
Smith explained that there was a “heavy police presence” at the outset, acknowledging that they “helped maintain order” and he was grateful.
“I’m sure that their job could have been done better elsewhere,” he added. “I’m sure there were other calls that needed to be handled, you know. For the most part, we were self-reliant and responsible and peaceful.”
“So now the governor is apparently threatening you and your business partner that anyone who shows up tomorrow is going to get a next-level kind of punishment,” Carlson said. “What do you think that means?”
“I’m not entirely sure but we’re ready for the consequences,” Smith replied, adding that they intend to open up again the rest of the week and one of the gym members has already started up a GoFundMe page for all of the members and the staff.
He laughed at Carlson’s question about how he has quickly gone from being someone interested in fitness to now being involved in acts of civil disobedience. Smith noted that he has received a “tremendous amount of support and outreach from people all over the country.”
“People seemed really energized by this idea that it’s OK to stand up for what you believe in,” he said. “And that we can get back to being a prosperous nation [while] at the same time, being safe and upholding the ideas of public health and public safety. And I think that we proved that today.”
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