News & Politics

NYC Restaurant Owner Who Declared His Business an 'Autonomous Zone' Arrested

AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey

You might remember the so-called “Autonomous Zone” in Portland, Ore., over the summer, nicknamed “CHAZ,” where anarchists terrorized citizens and the police and were allowed to continue flouting the law for months with no legal consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic. But when New York City restauranteur Danny Presti tried it in order to keep his business open and feed his family, he was arrested and sheriff’s officers raided his business.

Activist Scott LoBaido pointed out perfectly that the shutdown of Mac’s Public House is “selective enforcement” the state is imposing on small business owners while big-box and corporate stores are packed with shoppers. “Three hundred and fifty people on an airplane—on thousands of planes this close to each other, Costco is open, Home Depot, people lined up…but this guy can’t open his business,” he said. LoBaido is organizing a protest on Wednesday night outside Mac’s. “I want this whole f*cking street shut down with 10,000 f*cking people,” he said. “If they fear you, they won’t f*ck with you.” Obviously, there’s a language warning for the following video.

Worse, it appears that the arrest might have been illegal. State Senator Andrew Lanza was on the scene to support Mac’s and read from the order issued to the restaurant to “cease and desist” and he found a big problem. “Nowhere here is there an arrest warrant, nowhere here is anything about arresting anyone on their private property,” he said. “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.”

Mac’s was continuing to operate under a shutdown by giving away their products in exchange for donations, so they were not technically in violation of the state’s unconstitutional order to shut down private businesses. As a reminder, none of Governor Cuomo’s executive orders regarding the seizure of private businesses has gone through the legislature. As such, none of the orders should be enforceable because there is no law on the books that would allow the prosecution of violating the orders. The governor of New York continues to operate as if he has a legal leg to stand on. Any first-year law student could tell you that he doesn’t.

Multiple lawsuits have been won against the governor’s unconstitutional restrictions on churches, synagogues, and businesses. Much like the situation in Michigan, where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been slapped by judges for the same thing, the Democrat governors continue to do whatever they want while ignoring the courts. What I want to know is when judges will start issuing warrants for the arrest of governors for contempt of court.

There is no reasonable explanation for allowing Costco to operate but not Mac’s, unless it has to do with how much each can (or can’t) donate to election campaigns of the ruling party in New York. These arbitrary rules have got to be challenged right now — before families are thrown out of their homes for an inability to pay their bills this winter.

So now you know: The “autonomous zones” that are legal are the violent ones with anarchists cooking up assaults on police but not peaceful business owners who just want to serve people food and keep their own families fed.

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