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Supporters of 'autonomous' Staten Island bar rally outside after shutdown, speak out against restrictions

Posted at 8:47 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 23:02:27-05

STATEN ISLAND — A rally was held at a Staten Island bar that blatantly violate coronavirus restrictions inside of an orange zone.

Dozens packed the area outside Mac's Public House, supporting the bar that was closed the night prior.

People PIX11 spoke with questioned the reasoning behind the rules, and were critical that certain businesses were allowed to stay open, like larger stores, but not local bars.

New York City Sheriff's deputies shut down the bar Tuesday.

The Sheriff's Office initiated surveillance around 4:40 p.m. at Mac's Public House on Lincoln Avenue after the business had received numerous complaints for indoor dining in an orange zone and operating past the 10 p.m. curfew, officials said. The bar had described itself as an "autonomous zone."

Authorities said plain-clothes deputies then went in, were seated at an indoor table and were able to order food and alcoholic beverages in exchange for a mandatory "donation" of $40.

They witnessed multiple patrons also consuming food and drinks while seated inside, according to the Sheriff's Office.

At 5:40 p.m., deputies entered the establishment through the unlocked front door and found 14 people inside the bar, the majority of which were seating indoors while eating and drinking.

The Sheriff's Office said the deputies issued appearance tickets to multiple Mac's Public House employees, including a bartender and cook, for various violations of city and state laws.

Co-owner and manager Daniel Presti was arrested for obstructing governmental administration when he refused to leave the business, officials said.

Presti, 34, was taken to the Sheriff's Office, issued appearance tickets and released from custody, according to authorities.

PIX11 video showed about a dozen officers lined up in front of the bar, blocking patrons, with the bar closed behind them.

The Sheriff's Office said a crowd of about 50 people showed up to protest the shut down Tuesday. They were described as "verbal but peaceful."

Notable critic of social distancing rules Heshy Tischler was seen on video berating the officers and yelling criticisms of local and state leaders.

No injuries were reported and no other arrests were made.