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A New York bar that declared itself an “autonomous zone” amid coronavirus restrictions has been shut down and its owner arrested.
Mac’s Public House in Staten Island had defied the state-mandated orders which prevented serving customers inside as it is located in a coronavirus hot spot. In a raid Tuesday night, the New York City Sheriff’s Department arrived to close down the business and, when co-owner Danny Presti refused to leave, he was arrested, WABC-TV reported.
The state had revoked the bar’s liquor license and issued thousands of dollars in fines for violating the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders.
Fearing the devastating effects of another shutdown, the owner defied the restrictions and continued to serve customers. Using the term employed by protesters in Seattle, Wash., the bar declared itself an autonomous zone late last month before new orders took effect. Customers were reportedly not being charged for their drinks though donations were accepted.
“COVID-19 doesn’t respect autonomous zones, and neither does the sheriff. There are consequences for endangering your neighbors in a pandemic,” Mitch Schwartz, director of rapid response and deputy press secretary for the mayor’s office, told the Advance earlier in the week.
The raid by law enforcement and Presti’s arrest on Tuesday set off angry supporters who protested the closure of the establishment. Local politicians also voiced their frustration and questioned the measures taken against the business owner.
— Amanda Farinacci (@amandafarinacci) December 2, 2020
“This is atrocious, this man was arrested for trying to earn a living and pay his taxes. That is insanity,” Leticia Remauro, candidate for Staten Island Borough President, told WABC.
“This order simply says that they need to cease and desist,” State Sen. Andrew Lanza said to officers at the scene as he reviewed the order.
“Nowhere here is there an arrest warrant and nowhere here is anything about arresting anyone on their private property,” the Staten Island Republican added. “So I’ll ask, [and] you don’t have to answer … why was he arrested? I was told you would tell me why he was arrested and now I’m asking for that answer.”
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Lanza tried to calm the angry crowd that had gathered.
“I understand that we feel very strongly about this,’’ he said. “I feel as strongly as you, I assure you. But by speaking loudly it gives people an excuse not to answer us. So, let’s not give them the excuse. If they don’t want to answer, they don’t have to answer. We respect law enforcement on Staten Island like no other borough.”
And while supporters seemed agitated and shouted at the scene, Lanza tried to maintain a level of respect.
“We respect you, every single one of you,” he told the officers. “But we also have questions … as American citizens. You just took out one of our constituents, one of our neighbors, a business owner, in handcuffs. I asked why…this piece of paper does not authorize an arrest. If there was some other reason why you arrested him, I’d like to know what that is.”
Presti, who co-owns the Grant City tavern with Keith McAlarney, will reportedly be charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing, according to his lawyer, Lou Gelormino, who also explained that the situation had started off calmly but ended up with the issuing of multiple summonses and the arrest.
Gelormino told Newsmax that he was issued four summonses “just for representing my client” and also gave four employees of the bar over $5,000 in penalties as well.
— Newsmax (@newsmax) December 2, 2020
McAlarney spoke with Fox News host Tucker Carlson this week just before the raid that closed the doors of Mac’s Public House.
(Source: Fox News)
Artist and political activist Scott LoBaido, who was on the scene Tuesday, unloaded on the arrest and closure in a video he posted that night.
— Scott LoBaido (@ScottLoBaido) December 2, 2020
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