Supporters protest outside Mac's tavern on Staten Island in defiance of New York's COVID restrictions

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Supporters of a New York City bar owner gathered in front of the business Wednesday to protest his arrest this week for flouting coronavirus restrictions and refusing to close down. 

Around 60 people assembled in front of Mac’s Public House in Staten Island after its co-owner, Danny Presti, was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday night. Many businesses – particularly restaurants and bars –  have been impacted severely by government-mandated closures in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. 

Holding signs, the protesters sang "God Bless America" and the chorus to Twisted Sister's “We’re Not Gonna Take It."

One sign read: “Lock up criminals, not Americans.”

“To me this is a revolution,” Christine Salica of Westerleigh, a make-up artist who has been out of work since March, told the Staten Island Advance. “[Gov. Andrew] Cuomo and his legislators are collecting our paychecks and they are putting us out of work.”

The bar has been fined thousands of dollars as it continues serving patrons indoors and operating past the 10 p.m. curfew for restaurant service that Cuomo imposed citywide.

Plainclothes New York City Sheriff's deputies were inside the bar on Tuesday and ordered food in exchange for a mandatory $40 donation. Uniformed deputies then entered and issued tickets for city and state violations. 

Presti, 34, was uncooperative and was charged with obstruction of governmental administration in addition to the charges stemming from unauthorized food and beverage service, the sheriff said.


“We are a community,” Presti told the crowd outside the tavern. “We take back Staten Island tonight. We take all the states back. This is how we take our country back.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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