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Bar co-owner speaks out after being hauled off in handcuffs for defying New York COVID-19 orders


Danny Presti is the co-owner of a Staten Island bar called Mac’s Public House. He spoke with Tucker Carlson on Wednesday, just hours after he was arrested and accused of disorderly conduct for remaining inside his pub when it was supposed to be shuttered under New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “orange zone” coronavirus orders. Presti had declared the bar an “Autonomous Zone” mimicking this summer’s “CHAZ” enclave in Seattle.

Hundreds of supporters of Danny Presti and business partner Keith McAlarney protested outside the bar Wednesday night while Presti and attorney Lou Gelormino discussed the situation with host Tucker Carlson.

“We had a little meeting inside [the pub] yesterday,” Presti stated. “I did have some guests in there. Sheriffs came in, seemed like a lot of them. We were really good with them. Really cordial. And after a while, they just wanted to take me out, [it was a] whole big ordeal.”

The owners both explained that their frustrations are not with the New York Police Department (NYPD), which Presti said has been resourceful throughout the ordeal.

The agency that Presti has no respect for is the New York City Sheriff’s Office, which is separate from the NYPD and operates under the auspices of the New York City Department of Finance.

The Sheriff’s Office is tasked with “serving and executing legal processes/mandates issued by the State courts, the legal community, and the general public,” according to the city.

Plainclothes New York City Sheriff’s deputies went inside the bar on Tuesday and ordered food in exchange for a mandatory $40 donation. Uniformed deputies then entered and issued dozens of tickets for city and state violations.

“There’s a blockade, a literal blockade on a small business,” Presti said. The sheriff’s officers barred the entrance to the pub.

Before Presti had cuffs slapped on him, he and McAlarney locked the doors to their bar and were soliciting “donations” rather than billing their patrons, claiming to have found a “loophole” against the New York State Liquor Authority, which had pulled their license to sell booze as punishment for defying Cuomo.

Tuesday evening, sheriffs shut down the bar.

Afterward, supporters protested outside the bar holding signs. They sang “God Bless America” and the chorus to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

One sign read: “Lock up criminals, not Americans.”

“To me this is a revolution,” Christine Salica of Westerleigh, a make-up artist who has been out of work since March, told the Staten Island Advance. “[Gov. Andrew] Cuomo and his legislators are collecting our paychecks and they are putting us out of work.”

Presti, 34, was charged with obstruction of governmental administration in addition to the charges stemming from unauthorized food and beverage service, the sheriff said.

“We are a community,” Presti told the crowd outside the tavern. “We take back Staten Island tonight. We take all the states back. This is how we take our country back.”

Attorney Gelormino told Tucker that he had been served with “four summonses for just representing my client in a polite, respectful manner. [They] gave us $50,000 in fines throughout the building and wound up arresting Danny and putting him in handcuffs and charging him with disorderly conduct when he never raised a voice, and in his own building that he’s the leaseholder on.”

The attorney also said supporters of the bar’s owners were “peacefully protesting.”

“No rioting, no looting,” he reported. “We have about 25 sheriff’s deputies in front of the place that were kind of aggressive at times. But we have 1,500 Staten Islanders in a peaceful protest, protesting and supporting business owners, local business owners.”

The lawyer went on to explain that while Mac’s Public House sits in an “orange zone” where indoor dining is prohibited, just across the Staten Island Railway tracks is a “yellow zone” where indoor dining is permitted.

“I’m not a scientist. I’m an attorney,” Gelormino stated. “The COVID virus doesn’t stop at the railroad tracks where you can go eat a block away.”

Another attorney for the bar, Mark Fonte, stated, “These sheriff’s officers are ‘wannabe’ cops. This is what happens when little people get a little power.”

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