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Owner of NYC ‘autonomous zone’ bar taken away in handcuffs for defying COVID lockdown restrictions

Officers descended on the bar Tuesday night

Image Source: WABC-TV screenshot per Staten Island Advance

The New York City Sheriff's Department raided a Staten Island bar Tuesday night, shutting down the business and arresting one of its owners after the bar continued regular operation despite coronavirus lockdown measures.

Mac's Public House — which last week took a defiant stand and declared itself an "autonomous zone" from Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's lockdown restrictions — had refused to abide by the state and city mandates that banned indoor dining in certain COVID-19 hot spots.

The bar is located inside an "orange zone," which, under the health guidelines, means that it is limited to offering outdoor dining and takeout and delivery services only.

According to Staten Island Advance, sheriff's department officers and officers from various other agencies descended on the tavern Tuesday night to shut it down for continually flouting the health guidelines. When Danny Presti, who co-owns the establishment with Keith McAlarney, wouldn't cooperate, he was taken away in handcuffs.

The situation reportedly started out calmly but soon devolved into chaos as dozens of angry supporters were on the premises at the time authorities were carrying out their orders.

In all, four summonses were issued to Presti's lawyer, and several more summonses were issued to the bar and its employees, WABC-TV reported. The bar had already been subjected to thousands of dollars in fines and had its state liquor license revoked in the days prior.

The New York Post added that "Presti is expected to be released from the sheriff's office with a desk appearance ticket" but noted that it's still unclear what charges he faces.

Republican state Sen. Andrew Lanza was also on the premises on Tuesday night attempting to calm supporters while demanding answers from law enforcement.

"This order simply says that they need to cease and desist," Lanza announced to a crowd of supporters. "Nowhere here is there an arrest warrant and nowhere here is anything about arresting anyone on their private property."

"So I'll ask, [and] you don't have to answer ... why was he arrested?" he said to the officers nearby. "I was told you would tell me why he was arrested and now I'm asking for that answer."

Mac's had been attempting to skirt lockdown restrictions and circumvent their licenses being revoked by offering food and beverages for free while asking patrons for donations.

Last week, the owners posted a sign outside their door which read:

!ATTENTION! We hereby declare this establishment an !!!AUTONOMOUS ZONE!!! We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the Mayor of NYC and Governor of NY State.
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