News and Commentary

Staten Island Pub Declaring Itself ‘Autonomous Zone’ Reopens In Defiance Of New Coronavirus Restrictions
Staten Island bar, Mac's Public House reopens again defying COVID-19 restrictions days after it was shut down in New York City, United States on December 04, 2020.
Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A Staten Island bar that has been at the center of numerous disputes regarding New York’s coronavirus restrictions reopened for two hours Friday night in defiance of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus orders.

Mac’s Public House opened for two hours Friday night, just three days after co-owner Danny Presti was arrested for “trespassing” at his own establishment for refusing to comply with Cuomo’s lockdown orders. The bar had previously had its liquor license suspended for violating coronavirus restrictions. The City Department of Buildings’ vacate orders were still taped to the door as bargoers drank indoors in a crowded setting Friday night.

“We tried to sit down and be diplomatic with city and state officials; we had a meeting with the sheriff today,” co-owner Danny Presti told freelance reporter Oliya Scootercaster Friday night, the New York Post reported. “It did not go well. They’re just showing they’re not willing to work with us.”

“We have to get our livelihoods back. And we’ll see where that goes. We haven’t been able to pay the utilities,” Presti added. “Just everything’s piling up. We’re just scraping by.”

As The Daily Wire’s Jon Brown previously reported, Mac’s Public House declared itself an “autonomous zone” late last month, in reference to the short-lived anarchist settlement in Seattle, Washington, earlier this year.

“!ATTENTION! We hereby declare this establishment an !!!AUTONOMOUS ZONE!!!” signs outside the restaurant said, according to the Post. “We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the Mayor of NYC and Governor of NY State.”

“At this point, we’re OK with it, because we’re not paying it,” Presti told the Post at the time. “[The Sheriff’s Department] is issuing us $1,000 fines, so they keep coming back. We’re still here. We’re not letting them in.”

The pub’s liquor license was also revoked and the state Health Department issued a shut-down order.

In early December, The Daily Wire’s Amanda Prestigiacomo reported, Presti was arrested for “criminal trespassing” at his own establishment after Cuomo declared it to be in an “orange zone,” requiring the bar to close. From Prestigiacomo:

According to reporting from Irene Spezzamonte, the business owners were serving food and beverages, but they weren’t charging patrons any money. Apparently, this did not sufficiently skirt the rules of Cuomo’s order: “Although it was given away for free to patrons, the law does not permit service during the pandemic, per Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate,” Spezzamonte said.

Presti was taken away in handcuffs, and numerous cops stayed outside the tavern to block the entrance. A crowd of supporters quickly formed outside Mac’s, including State Sen. Andrew J. Lanza.

The Republican representative repeatedly asked the officers on scene why Presti was arrested, noting that the order only states that the business owners must “cease and desist.”

“This order simply says that they need to cease and desist,” Lanza told the officers, reported Spezzamonte. “Nowhere here is there an arrest warrant, nowhere here is anything about arresting anyone on their private property. 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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