A fed-up U.S. Marine and small business owner in New York ripped up a $15,000 fine for violating the coronavirus restrictions on live TV Tuesday in defiance of rules ordering businesses to close and limiting public and private gatherings to just 10 people.
Robby Dinero, the owner of Athletes Unleashed crossfit gym in Orchard Park, New York, was fined after a confrontation with an official from the Erie County Health Department and Erie County sheriffs during a protest against the coronavirus restrictions on businesses held in Dinero's gym Friday. The police and the health department official were told to leave Dinero's property and "go get a warrant" in a video that went viral.
On Tuesday evening, Dinero was interviewed by Fox News about the incident and what happened afterward.
"I posted on Facebook Friday night that I wanted to get together business owners and protest and fight the lockdown that I feel is infringing upon our freedom," Dinero told Fox News. "We were about 20 minutes into that meeting when some sheriffs and a department of health official showed up uninvited. My business was closed, we were not conducting business. This was a protest."
When some of the protesters asked Dinero what they should do, he told them to get the officials to leave.
"Those patriots took it upon themselves to stand shoulder to shoulder and tell them to get out. And we were right, because if we were wrong they would have called for backup and come back. But they didn't, they left," Dinero said.
Later, the sheriffs and the health department official returned and served Dinero with a $15,000 fine for hosting the protest.
"Any infringement on our liberty goes too far. We were born with inalienable rights bestowed upon us by our creator. They are guaranteed by the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights," Dinero said.
"Our freedom cannot end where people's fear starts," he added.
Dinero, the father of four children, rebuked government officials like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz for continuing to collect their taxpayer-funded six-figure salaries while American workers and business owners are being told they cannot earn a living to feed their families.
He demanded that New York officials look children in the eye and tell them their parents' jobs are not "essential."
At the close of the interview, he tore up the $15,000 fine.
NY business owner tears up $15K government fine on live TV www.youtube.com
Many Americans are rallying behind Dinero in solidarity against the coronavirus restrictions.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw issued a statement to WKBW-TV blasting "power hungry politicians" who are "punishing" businesses.
"Mark Poloncarz crossed a line. Punitively punishing a small business owner that served our country is despicable. People are fed up. The resistance against power hungry politicians destroying businesses with arbitrary COVID rules they make up as they go along has begun. Enough is enough. Mark Poloncarz is a bully that cares more about shutting down the economy, closing schools, regulating churches and damaging families than protecting the health of our community."
Mychajliw shared a link to a GoFundMe page that was set up for Dinero to cover the cost of the fine.
Poloncarz's Health Dept fined Marine, war veteran & business owner Robby Dinero $15,000. Kicked them out of his gym… https://t.co/Lee5aGBxm4— Stefan Mychajliw (@Stefan Mychajliw)1606261337.0
As of Wednesday morning, 690 people had donated over $25,000 to support Dinero and his protest.