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Police swarmed Staten Island bar to arrest owner while NYC’s murder rate soars. The city’s priorities are dangerously skewed

The owner of a NYC bar who stood up to Covid restrictions was arrested in a major show of force by sheriff’s deputies who prioritized one man’s civil disobedience over a soaring murder rate. Is this what New Yorkers want?

Dozens of sheriff’s deputies stood guard outside Staten Island bar Mac’s Public House on Wednesday as co-owner Danny Presti returned to his business after spending the night in jail, reportedly for trespassing on his own property. 

As New York City crime hits heights unseen in years, state authorities saw fit to detail what the New York Times called a “phalanx of officers” to Mac’s to ensure the thousand-plus people who’d showed up to peacefully support the proprietor and his co-owner Keith McAlarney couldn’t get inside.

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A YouTube screenshot shows Mac’s Public House co-owner Danny Presti discussing his fight with city and state officials over Covid-19 business restrictions.
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It wasn’t the deputies’ first visit to Mac’s. A uniformed horde had descended on the bar to arrest Presti on Tuesday after a dubious sting by a handful of plainclothes deputies. The cops walked in, ordered food and drinks, and left a $40 “donation” – with none of these actions running afoul of the law – then arrested Presti when he refused to leave his bar. After continuing to serve customers last week despite Governor Andrew Cuomo’s heavy-handed crackdown on supposed Covid-19 “hot zones,” Mac’s liquor license was invalidated, but the bar responded by serving booze in exchange for donations – technically legal.

Indeed, according to the bar’s lawyers, the sheriff’s deputies were the ones who broke the law. State Senator Andrew Lanza, a former prosecutor who joined a large protest outside Mac’s after Presti was taken away in cuffs on Tuesday, noted the cops had barged in without a warrant and the papers they’d provided him with did not justify arrest. Bar employees and even lawyer Lou Gelormino were slapped with thousands of dollars in summonses for merely being on the premises, suggesting the police were trying to make an example out of Mac’s.

That move might have backfired, however. Ever since the proprietors of Mac’s declared it an “autonomous zone” last week, pointing out that thanks to Cuomo’s seemingly arbitrary designation of “red zones” and “orange zones,” individuals could walk just a block away from the bar and eat indoors, the case has been attracting media interest and popular sympathy. McAlarney spoke for many small business owners when he complained that “it seems that there’s a new rule or new mandate or new something every single day.” 

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FILE PHOTO: Business owners rally against coronavirus restrictions in San Diego, California, November 16, 2020 © Reuters / Mike Blake
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New York is in the midst of a crime wave, and while the New York sheriff’s department is not the NYPD, deputies are still armed law enforcement officers. Many residents have questioned why Sheriff Joseph Fucito has prioritized Mac’s serving customers over the 166 percent increase in shootings for August compared the same period in 2019. New York’s murder rate hit a five-year high in June. Violent crime in general has soared under the Covid-19 lockdown, yet cops are tasked with guarding state-sanctioned murals or playing “fun police” to break up private parties. Even non-police agencies like the Taxi and Limousine Commission have been pressed into service policing bars like Mac’s.

The growing unrest over NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s horrifically skewed priorities is thus wholly understandable, if long overdue. Courts are finally starting to side with business owners, churches, and ordinary citizens whose lives have been turned upside down by unscientific, totalitarian restrictions. Especially with the recent discoveries of massive flaws in the ‘gold standard’ test for Covid-19, it’s past time to reconsider letting petty tyrants like Cuomo and de Blasio trample New York’s future and turn its inhabitants into skulking snitches. 

The snitches who found their calling in life obeying arbitrary rules will resist, of course – they swarmed a video of Wednesday’s protest against the targeting of the bar, gleefully speculating how many of the protesters would be dead by Christmas (while trying to excuse their own support for Black Lives Matter protests) – but no one’s forcing them to go outside.

Local activist Scott LoBaido, who led the protest on Wednesday, decried the injustice of people being allowed to swarm poorly ventilated big-box stores and pile onto planes by the hundreds while “trying to make a f**king living” was punishable by getting “raided by the goddamn Gestapo.” 

If we don’t show up and show f**king face we’re going to lose this whole f**king battle… If they fear you, they won’t f**k with you! You understand what I’m saying?

Indeed, it’s not anti-lockdown protesters who will be dead by Christmas – it’s New York City if people don’t stand up to this dehumanizing new normal.

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