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Hundreds Gather Outside NY Pub Closed By the State For Violating COVID-19 Orders

A couple hundred protesters gathered outside a Staten Island pub on Wednesday night after the restaurant was forcefully closed for defying Governor Cuomo’s COVID-19 orders.

Law enforcement closed Mac’s Public House on Tuesday night and arrested co-owner Danny Presti. The pub had remained open and continued to serve food and alcohol after being stripped of its liquor license for defying state orders to shut down indoor services.

Supporters of the pub responded by gathering outside the restaurant on Wednesday evening. Police officers barricaded the doors to deny entry, so protesters filled Lincoln Street, waving American flags.

Danny Presti and Keith McAlarney opened their pub a mere two months before nationwide shutdowns began in response to the global spread of COVID-19. According to their attorney, Louis Gelormino, the co-owners invested over $150,000 in the restaurant’s opening.

The neighborhood in which the restaurant resides was recently placed in the “orange zone”, which prohibits indoor dining and restricts outdoor dining to a maximum of four people.

In response, the owners declared their pub an “autonomous zone”, borrowing a strategy used by left-wing anarchists during summer protests in Seattle this past summer.

“ATTENTION!” reads a sign posted on their window. “As of November 20, 2020 we hereby declare this establishment an AUTONOMOUS ZONE. We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the Mayor of NYC and Governor of NY State.”

On Friday, November 27th, the State Liquor Authority voted unanimously to suspend the pub’s liquor license.

In response, the owners posted a YouTube video, challenging local and state authorities and encouraging other small business owners to join them in defiance.

In the video, McAlarney told viewers he isn’t scared. “If that liquor license is gonna come off the wall, it’s gonna be done by Cuomo. You wanna come down here and pull that license off the wall?…Feel free to end up coming down and we’ll have a conversation before you even think about stepping foot on my property. I will not back down.”

The video ended with an appeal to law enforcement to uphold the Constitutional rights of the people rather than aiding the tyrannical overreach of the state.

Presti announced that due to their suspended license, they would be serving food and alcohol for free, but he asked for patrons to donate toward their bills.

On Tuesday night, plainclothes deputies entered the restaurant in an undercover operation. They sat at a table, ordered food and alcohol in exchange for a $40 donation, and observed around 14 people eating and drinking indoors against the governor’s orders.

The deputies immediately ordered the owners to shut down their operation. In the process, Presti was arrested and several employees (including the bartender, the cook, and the restaurant’s attorney) were cited with violations.

Presti was released that same night after being issued appearance tickets.

Both Presti and McAlarney were present at Wednesday’s protest.

“There’s no reason for it to be closed when the big stores are open,” one protester told PIX11 News. “Why is Costco open, the supermarkets, the malls? Why are the sheriff’s department not standing in front of those big stores? Can somebody answer that?”

Reporter Joe Mauceri explained on the scene that, “We can actually see a restaurant down the block here that is allowed to open for indoor dining because it’s not considered the orange zone.”

“We are just trying to make a living and feed our families,” McAlarney told the crowd. “We jumped through every hoop, did whatever they did. But at some point, you can’t just keep shutting down.”

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