Signs of life on Staten Island.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Twenty-four hours after the owner of Mac’s Public House was led away in handcuffs for allegedly refusing to close his pub during the pandemic, a large crowd of Staten Islanders assembled outside the Grant City establishment to protest the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
A crowd of about 60 began assembling just after 5 p.m., with many carrying American flags and signs. One read: “Lock up criminals, not Americans.”
By the time the rally’s program started after 6 p.m., the crowd had swelled to several hundred, and a portion of Lincoln Avenue in front of the establishment was closed to traffic due to the crowd.
Protesters sang “God Bless America” as the rally’s 6 p.m. start time neared. The crowd also sang the chorus of “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” by Twisted Sister.
One man, Michael, a Westerleigh resident, carried an American flag upside down, a sign the nation is in distress.
“We are being subjugated by our own government,” he said.
“To me this is a revolution,” said Christine Salica of Westerleigh, a make-up artist who has been out of work since March. “[Gov. Andrew] Cuomo and his legislators are collecting our paychecks and they are putting us out of work.”
One man in the crowd barked at members of the Sheriff’s office posted outside the restaurant.
“I hope your pensions work,” he said. “You sold out your own people. You are enforcing the laws of the same guy who spits on you.”
Controversial artist Scott LoBaido, who has been a visible presence at Mac’s Public House as the controversy heated up in recent days, spoke to the crowd shortly after 6 p.m.
“Patriotism is not just hanging your flags out on the Fourth of July,” he said. “You know what’s patriotism? This is f***ing patriotism.”
Gott-damned skippy, brother.
Tension between the restaurant and state officials erupted Tuesday night when the Sheriff’s office executed a law-enforcement action and arrested owner Danny Presti and issued a partial vacate order for the business.
Keith McAlarney, who owns the tavern with Presti, was not taken into custody.
“That was a first,” Presti said of his arrest. “I probably have 15 fines in my pocket right now. I don’t even know what they’re for.”
Presti spoke to the crowd at about 6:45 p.m.
“We are a community,” he said. “We take back Staten Island tonight. We take all the states back. This is how we take our country back.”
It surely is. Or the beginning of the whole process, at least. Don’t relent, don’t flinch, don’t back down. Back THEM down instead. Take the fight to the miserable worms, good and hard.