Ian Smith, co-owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey — who's been battling far-left Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy over coronavirus shutdowns since the spring and said he's racked up over $1 million in fines — has a new message for Murphy and other state officials.
What did Smith say?
"We have been open against unconstitutional shut down orders since May," Smith wrote in a now-viral Instagram post over the weekend. "Not once have we flinched, and the petty tyrant of New Jersey governor Murphy has tried everything he could possibly think of to ruin us. Over seven months later we will open our doors every single day."
He added: "No government official will ever tell me that I am not able to provide for my family. I do not answer to public servants – no matter what threats or punishments they impose. I am a free man. I do not ask for permission. I do not ask for forgiveness. You work for us. The only way you'll ever close these doors is when you close my casket."
The post comes with video in which Smith is seen holding up pieces of paper — which he presents to the camera and then discards one by one, "Subterranean Homesick Blues"-style — that send the same overall message.
"We have had our business license stripped," the messages Smith holds aloft say. "We have had our doors locked and barricaded. We have been arrested and have over 60 citations."
Smith's silent message adds that on the day of the recording, Atilis passed 84,000 visits — but the gym won't require masks and "never will." The clip ends with four printed words: "No science. No shutdown."
Just after Smith walks out of camera frame, someone is heard hollering, "F*** you, Murphy!"
Content warning: Language:
What did Murphy have to say?
When contacted about Smith's new message, Murphy's office told TMZ it had "nothing to add."
Smith emphasized on numerous occasions that his gym uses safety protocols, including proper sanitation and social distancing to mitigate the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
He told Fox News that he disputes the effectiveness of lockdown policies adopted across the nation put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus and is saddened by harms inflicted on businesses.
"What's happening to the middle class and small businesses in America is nothing short of a complete tragedy, and I would go so far as to call it criminal," Smith said. "You're putting people out of business for good."