Protesters Support Staten Island Bar Owner After Arrest for Ignoring Coronavirus Restrictions

Hundreds of protesters gathered Wednesday night, outside a Staten Island bar a day after it was shut down, the manager was arrested for publicly declaring itself an “autonomous zone” and not adhering to the state’s coronavirus pandemic orange zone restrictions.

Hundreds of supporters stood with American flags and political signs, demonstrating in front of New York City Sheriff’s officers who were guarding the front door of Mac’s Public House. The protesters sang “God Bless America” and the chorus to Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”

In a Youtube video McAlarney, the bar’s owner, taunted Mr. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, whom he called “de Bozo,” and dared them to come down in person and take the license off the wall.

In what could be described as an undercover sting, plainclothes New York City Sheriff’s deputies entered the bar, ordered food in exchange for a mandatory $40 donation, which led to the arrest of Co-owner, Danny Presti, 34, who was charged with obstruction of governmental administration and charges stemming from unauthorized food and beverage service, he was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday night.

Kevin Smith, a supporter standing in the large crowd, voiced his concerns of why he believes this enforcement is wrong, CBS reported.

“There’s people doing heroin and defecating on the subway, and I think that spreads the virus a lot more than some people having a drink on Staten Island,” Smith told a CBS reporter.


When a CBS reporter asked a supporter for a response about the crowds behavior contributing to why businesses and restaurants have to close, one  answered, “At a certain point, like people on the left like to say, our body, our choice.”

Police said there were no arrests and no summonses were issued on Wednesday night.

According to CBS2, officers were guarding the bar door all day, making sure people did not try to eat and drink inside.

McAlarney, last week declared his business an “autonomous zone” to try to protect himself from COVID lockdown rules. Officials ignored his action and he got slapped with more than a dozen summonses.

McAlarney showed up at his bar on Lincoln Avenue with his attorney Wednesday morning. It was shut down Tuesday night by the city’s Sheriffs Office.

“I’m allowed to be inside my private property. I pay my rent,” McAlarney said. “They’re saying right now I can’t serve food and I can’t serve alcohol.”

“I’m just trying to support my family. We’ve asked you guys to work with us. You refuse to work with us,” McAlarney said.

Local business owner Joseph Cannizzo expressed his financial concerns to CBS2’s reporter on the scene, “We pay high city tax. We pay high state tax. We pay high federal tax like everybody else. A lot of us need to operate above a certain capacity just to be able to even pay our bills and pay our staff,” Cannizzo said.

“I actually support him. I believe that people should be allowed to earn a buck with their business,” a protester named Carol said. “I think that a lot of the hype is a little bit exaggerated.”

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About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: Getty Images