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Fox News contributor and top conservative podcaster Dan Bongino got some new ink and hoisted some weights this week as he patronized small business owners facing financial ruin due to ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns imposed by Democrats.
In videos posted to his social media accounts, Bongino — a former NYPD officer, Secret Service agent and author of a best-selling book on “Spygate” — is seen doing reps at Atilis Gym in New Jersey and getting some ink at Apex Tattoo Factory in Apex, North Carolina.
“Quick set of deads at Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey. The tyrants in the NJ Governor’s office want to bankrupt them for daring to safely open. We must stand with them. PATRIOTS UNITE!” Bongino wrote in one Twitter post as he deadlifted 300-plus pounds.
In another Twitter video post, Bongino is doing some dumbbell chest presses.
“Banging out some final reps with the Patriots at Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, NJ. Don’t let the tyrant Governor shut them down,” he wrote.
In a video posted to Instagram, Bongino is seen getting a new tat on his back.
“The owner was arrested for opening his business to feed his kids and pay his mortgage. Trying our best to help as many as we can,” he wrote.
Bongino’s efforts come as scores of small business owners trapped in cities and states where Democratic governors and officials have refused to lift coronavirus restrictions face bankruptcy, fines, and jail for trying to reopen so they can make a living.
Beginning in May, Atilis Gym owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti began defying Gov. Phil Murphy’s order for ‘non-essential’ businesses like athletic clubs to close, ostensibly to slow the spread of COVID-19.
They decried the decision to close gyms, hair salons, and other small businesses but allow “big box” retailers like Walmart and grocery stores to remain open.
“We made the decision to open,” Smith told Fox News at the time, in defiance of Murphy’s order, adding, “we’re sick and tired of having our rights trampled on.”
Though the owners put in place a sanitation plan for members that resembled plans employed by larger retailers permitted to remain open, city officials responded by boarding up their gym.
But the co-owners kept reopening their business in defiance of the state’s order as well as a separate closure order issued by city officials.
And late last month, the two were arrested and charged with contempt, obstruction and violating a disaster control act. After a state judge ruled that the gym must remain closed, Smith nevertheless vowed to reopen it again, writing on Facebook that he and Trumbetti will “not back down under any circumstances.”
“[We are] disappointed that this motion for contempt was granted, however, we do respect the judge’s decision and will be taking all necessary steps to see if there is an issue of appeal here,” their lawyer Christopher Arzberger, told local media.
Days later, the pair kicked down sheets of plywood blocking the entrance to the gym and reopened it again.
“I hate the fact that it has to come to this. Governor Murphy can portray us in whatever villainous way he wants, but our hands are forced here and that’s his fault,” Smith wrote on Instagram.
“We are over 4 months into an economic shutdown that was supposed to be 14 days. It is time to end this and resume life in a safe and responsible manner,” he added.
Last week, the all-Democrat city council voted to revoke the gym’s license.
“Zero evidence was put forth to support the claim that @atilisgymbellmawr poses any threat to the public,” Smith wrote. “When asked, they ignored the request to hold off on the vote until evidence can be put forth. They did not allow the public to speak. Our fight does not stop here.”
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