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'Somebody's gotta stand up to it': Owner of NJ gym declares it's staying open despite Democratic Gov. Murphy's warning


'People keep asking me, am I afraid. Absolutely. But I'm more afraid that my kids aren't going to have rights.'

Image source: KYW-TV video screenshot

The owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, are vowing to stay open for a second day in defiance of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's coronavirus shutdown order — and in spite of the governor's warning to the owners and anyone who steps foot in the gym.

"He can do whatever he wants," co-owner Frank Trumbetti told KYW-TV Tuesday morning regarding Murphy. "I'm going to do this tomorrow and the next day and the next day."

What are the details?

The gym made big headlines when it opened Monday morning before the governor allowed it. Outside the gym a crowd of several hundred — which began forming hours before the doors opened at 8 a.m. — carried American and Trump 2020 flags and chanted "USA! USA! USA!" and "Let's get back to work!"

Later that morning, a police officer told the crowd and the owners, "Formally, you are all in violation of the executive order." Then came the officer's surprising follow-up statement: "On that note, have a good day. Everybody be safe."

As police turned and walked away, the crowd immediately erupted in cheers:

Nevertheless, Bellmawr police eventually did issue disorderly persons citations to the gym's owners for violating the governor's executive order, KYW said, adding that a disorderly persons charge carries a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in jail.

Image source: KYW-TV video screenshot

The station added that the owners were the only ones to receive citations Monday, but police gave warnings to gym members who were working out.

And Murphy also warned the gym and all those who enter it Tuesday, KYW said: "If you show up at that gym again tomorrow, there's going to be a different reality than showing today. ... These just aren't words, we've got to enforce this, but I also don't want to start World War III."

Image source: KYW-TV video screenshot

'People keep asking me, am I afraid. Absolutely.'

Trumbetti was strident in his response to the the citations he and his business partner Ian Smith received Monday, declaring to the gathered crowd, "I don't care how much it is" and that "it's going to get thrown out because it's against the Constitution, so I'm not worried about it!"

Image source: KYW-TV video screenshot

But Trumbetti admitted in a quieter moment with KYW Tuesday morning that he's indeed concerned about consequences that may be awaiting him.

"People keep asking me, am I afraid. Absolutely," he told the station. "But I'm more afraid that my kids aren't going to have rights ... somebody's gotta stand up to it."

Image source: KYW-TV video screenshot

Get ready for arrests

And while Trumbetti encouraged members to come back to the gym Tuesday, he said there may be repercussions.

"Know that if you walk into Atilis Gym to get your workout in and feel like a normal human being, you're probably gonna be potentially arrested," he told KYW.

Trumbetti and Smith retained a lawyer to send a letter to Murphy calling his shelter-in-place orders "draconian and unconstitutional" and arguing against distinctions between essential and nonessential businesses, the station said.

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