The saga of Mac's Public House, the Staten Island bar that refused to comply with "orange zone" COVID restrictions and shut down down indoor dining, instead declaring itself an "Autonomous Zone," continues. The night after the bar was raided by sheriffs, who arrested co-owner Danny Presti in front of a group of several onlookers, a much larger crowd heeded a call from its social media to "Occupy Mac's Public House":
Tonight at 6pm come and show your support to protest how small businesses like ours are being forced closed with no help all while the government steps over our dead bodies to hand out money to big corporations, banks and Wall Street. This is for all small businesses everywhere! If we are all created equal why are there 2 sets of rules? One for small businesses and another for Walmart and Amazon?#breakupmonopolies #smallbusiness #smallbusinessowner #smallbusinesssupport #help #helpus #werehungry #saveourfamilies #nyc #ny #statenisland #newyork
As New York Times reports, and as you can see in videos taken on the scene below, a large group gathered on Wednesday night (12/2) to protest Presti's arrest and the bar's shutdown. From videos of the protest, many in attendance appear not to be wearing masks, but there are plenty of American flags being waved, and according to New York Post, members of far-right group the Proud Boys were present, too.
The bar's other co-owner, Keith McAlarney, said in an interview Wednesday that he "was trying to get [city officials'] attention so that they would work with the industry instead of being lazy with their decisions and just closing things down," New York Times reports. He also questioned the effectiveness of bar closures as a means of containing the virus, saying, "If you feel that it’s not safe to go out, then choose to stay home."
As the Times points out, the zip code Mac's is located in, 10306, currently has the fourth highest COVID test positivity rate in NYC over the last seven days, 8.62%. "COVID-19 doesn’t respect autonomous zones, and neither does the sheriff — there are consequences for endangering your neighbors in a pandemic," mayoral spokesperson Mitch Schwartz said.
Watch videos from Wednesday night's protest below.