Cops Raid New York Bar and Arrest Owner for Defying COVID-19 Restrictions

Using police to forcefully shut down Mac's Public House is a violation of liberty and a waste of resources.


A Staten Island bar whose owners had declared it an "autonomous zone" in order to defy a local ban on indoor dining was reportedly raided by police on Tuesday night.

Mac's Public House was the target of an undercover sting conducted by New York City Sheriff's deputies, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. Plainclothes deputies entered the bar on Tuesday night and ordered food in exchange for a mandatory $40 "donation" that Mac's was charging all patrons to skirt a local ban on serving food to indoor diners.

Tickets and citations were issued, and the incident culminated with the arrest of co-owner Danny Presti. One of the attornies representing the bar and its owners told the Staten Island Advance that Presti was arrested "for criminal trespass because he wouldn't leave his own establishment."

Videos of the incident posted to social media show a sizable crowd of people gathered outside Mac's Public House as Presti was arrested. A local TV station reported that protesters shouted at deputies as they closed the bar.

In a video posted to Instagram, state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R–Staten Island) could be seen asking the deputies who arrested Presti to explain their actions while others in the crowd shouted their support for the bar's co-owner.

The raid on Mac's and the arrest of Presti is the culmination of a weeks-long battle. The bar had its liquor license revoked and was accumulating fines of up to $10,000 per day, the Advance reported, because it was staying open despite its location within a so-called "orange zone"—a state public health designation for areas where COVID-19 cases are spiking. Indoor dining is forbidden in those zones.

In response, the bar's owners declared their property to be an "autonomous zone"—a tongue-in-cheek reference to the short-lived "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" that protesters in Seattle declared last summer.

The bar was also operating in defiance of a nonsensical 10 p.m. curfew that applies to all establishments in New York State. Although the curfew is purportedly intended to slow the spread of COVID-19, there is very little internal logic to it. If serving food indoors is safe enough to be legal at noon or 9:45 p.m., there's no reason why it shouldn't be safe enough to be legal at 10 p.m.

Beyond the obvious economic burden that these restrictions have placed on bars and restaurants, one of the major problems with obviously flawed and arbitrary rules is that people don't see much of a reason to follow them.

Yes, social distancing and limiting public gatherings are important to slowing the spread of COVID-19, but public officials have fumbled the opportunity to earn the public trust that is necessary for combatting a pandemic. But shows of force against defiant businesses only stand to make things worse and could encourage more acts of civil disobedience in the face of unfounded COVID-19 restrictions.

Bars and restaurants that defy government orders to close or limit dining can be fined for doing so, and courts will have to sort out which restrictions are acceptable and which create an unreasonable and unlawful burden on the rights of business owners and restaurant-goers.

It's highly unlikely that anyone who was choosing to eat at Mac's Public House on Tuesday night was doing so unaware of the risks involved. The voluntary transactions between the bar and its patrons were taking place with everyone implicitly agreeing to that level of risk—and, if anything, a slew of police officers storming the bar only increased the COVID-19 risk by packing more bodies into the same, limited space.

NEXT: Obama Knocks ‘Defund the Police’ Activists for Valuing ‘Feel Good’ Sloganeering Over Practical Reforms

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  1. NY is run my Dems instead of Orange Man. Why complain now?

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    2. “Using police to forcefully shut down Mac’s Public House is a violation of liberty and a waste of resources.”

      Real scathing stuff there.
      Totes doesn’t miss the point at all…

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  2. Oh my. Democrats would never do something authoritarian like this.

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  3. I was out past curfew on Thanksgiving. Didn’t get home until 11:00pm. A cop even passed me and waved. Cops didn’t care.

    Of course, this was NOT New York Cyst. I probably would have been chained in a pit if it were New York Cyst.

  4. Behold my crocodile tears, shed for thee.

  5. So just hold a protest in the street, serve refreshments, and ask for donations.

    1. No, take donations.

  6. Did the cops also arrest everybody there for various infractions that they were no doubt committing? Or did they use their discretion in which laws to enforce and who to enforce them against? And if you were to press them on the issue, would they claim “hey, don’t blame us, we’re just enforcing the law, we’re just doing as we’re told, if you don’t like the law you need to take that up with the people who make the law” and deny that they have any discretion in which laws to enforce and who to enforce them against?

    1. These weren’t cops. The nyc cops refused to be an enforcement arm of the mayor.

      These are nyc sheriffs, who normally handle repossessions and evictions. They’re political appointees.

  7. That’s what you get for voting democrat. A police state and no hope.

    1. Remember a few months ago when cops in Red Mississippi ticketed people for attending church? Remember?

      Sometimes, just sometimes, the Trumplickers are just as bad as the Bootlickers.

      1. You mean the tickets issued by the cops under the direct order of Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons (a Democrat)? You mean the Greenville Mississippi that has voted Democrat for president in the last 4 elections? The one with a completely democrat run city council? THAT GREENVILLE?

        1. the GOP is the biggest supporters of cops and the police state .it is the dems that want to defund the cops

          1. Name one Democrat controlled city (but I repeat myself) other than Minneapolis that has actually done anything about defunding the police.

            The Dems like to talk about defunding the police because it’s an issue for certain far left activist groups, but very few Dems seem at all interested in actually doing anything about it.

      2. Seriously, Brandy. The left gets to own this one. While the right has its share of pandemic over-reactors, the left has been uniquely insidious in its enforcement- punishing people who don’t obey- and in the face of their clear and constant shirking of these rules at the elite level.

        Why you bring up Trump is not clear to me. This has all been at the local level. The whole criticism of Trump has been that he hasn’t mandated hard enough like Biden will.

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  9. Bars and restaurants that defy government orders to close or limit dining can be fined for doing so, and courts will have to sort out which restrictions are acceptable and which create an unreasonable and unlawful burden on the rights of business owners and restaurant-goers.

    The antidote to this totalitarian behavior is a trial, with a jury of peers to render a verdict. Then the fines go away, and the government can be compelled to pay legal cost, and damages. Does anyone think a jury will find this bar owner guilty, in this circumstance? Not a chance.

    1. Could you imagine if we took “jury of your peers” more literally, and the jury had to be composed of other bar and restaurant owners? lol

    2. Thats not the antidote, because it doesn’t cost any decision makers anything or hold any of them personally accountable.
      It is absolutely not a deterrent.
      At this point, with elections and courts shown to be corrupt and untrustworthy, there’s only one solution.
      Americans need to man up.

  10. Shouldn’t be consulting “attornies”.

  11. arrested “for criminal trespass because he wouldn’t leave his own establishment.”

    Fine time to purchase stock in a woodchipper manufacturer. I have heard Vermeer makes a fine machine, but Bandit has a model called the Intimidator, which really drives the purpose home.

    1. have you seen the ones mounted on a semi truck they eat whole trees not just branches

      1. I want that thing they used in Cold Pursuit. Not a woodchipper, but shit inducing nonetheless.

  12. Just who the hell does this guy think he is: the mayor?

    He should have burned down a few buildings (in a mostly peaceful way) and waved a few signs first.
    This is where Trump should step up and pay all the fines and shit, then hire the guy a lawyer to sue everybody in sight.

    1. Trump should pardon him.

      1. Can Trump issue a pardon to any individuals, nationwide, who are accused of failing to follow closures, distancing, or other covid-induced restrictions not passed through the legislative process? That would be a great fuck you as he walks out the door.

        1. Probably not since, these aren’t federal orders. Would be nice if he sent the National Guard in to stand guard and protect the civil rights of Americans like Eisenhower did. Maybe have Cuomo arrested and sent to Guantanamo.

  13. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

    Arresting a man for trespass on his own property is over the line. They have without question crossed the threshold of despotism.

    The King is a fink!

  14. Boaters are cool [hats].

    Authoritarians are just petty assholes; until they get real power, then they are total assholes. And they never give it up. At least not willingly [as I picture Mussolini swinging from a gas station sign].

    1. I met a guy who lived in the village where they caught Mussolini. He told my high school history class that they drug Il Duce through the streets behind a jeep so the villagers could come out and piss on the body. I always appreciated his being that honest with students and demonstrating how much a real dictator is despised by the people he oppresses.

      Socialists always think they can control the violence that that begets them power. But they just open the door for the fascists to take over.

      1. There’s a difference?

  15. And the thin blue line wonders why people hate them?

  16. >>undercover sting

    he told the whole fucking planet what he was doing. you gotta pretend it’s a pet store.

  17. In response, the bar’s owners declared their property to be an “autonomous zone”—a tongue-in-cheek reference to the short-lived “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” that protesters in Seattle declared last summer.

    For that to fly you have to be dirty hippies with no clue how to garden, much less run a business. How did this bar survive its government this long?

    1. Relative isolation. By being in a part of nyc that’s not very crowded or attention-seeking. By being in a police-friendly part of the city.

  18. I commend the man for doing what is necessary, but he did it all wrong. When you declare your property to be autonomous, you have to have men with rifles at the ready. You need guards and backup, all with body armor and helmets, etc. Then when they come to threaten you with death, arrest you, and shut your doors, you shoot them. You have to, otherwise they won’t even pause. Yes, more goons will come and you’ll be eventually arrested or killed, but you will have made it extremely costly for them and you will inspire others to defend themselves in the same manner from the depraved violence of the state. If you’re not willing to do these things, then just don’t bother. You’re not fighting back. You’re just jumping into the fire.

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