Chopper 2 flew overhead what looked like a major block party in Grant City, but instead it was a large protest. Most people didn’t have masks on.
Hundreds stood shoulder-to-shoulder with American flags and political signs, demanding change in the area.
They demonstrated in front of New York City sheriff’s officers, who guarded the front door of Mac’s Public House.
The bar and restaurant was forced to close when its owners refused to stop indoor dining in an orange zone after several warnings.
The general manager was escorted out in handcuffs Tuesday night for defying the order.
“They are just trying to support their family,” said Kevin Smith, who was mixed in with the group of supporters. “There’s people doing heroin and defecating on the subway… I think that spreads the virus a lot more than some people having a drink in Staten Island.”
Owner Keith McAlarney said he feels he’s being stopped from making money.
“I’m allowed to be inside my private property. I pay my rent… They’re saying right now I can’t serve food and I can’t serve alcohol,” he said Wednesday.
However, the guidelines for orange zone areas allowed him to serve take-out, alcohol and outdoor diners.
The zip code has one of the highest COVID infection rates in the city at 8.62%.
One local business owner said the restrictions are too tough, not enough for someone operating in New York City.
“We pay high city tax, we pay high state tax, we pay high federal tax like everybody else,” he said. “A lot of us need to operate above a certain capacity just to be able to even pay our bills and pay our staff.”
That’s why many supporters showed up.
“At a certain point, like people on the left like to say, our body our choice,” said Smith.
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Business owner Larry Tajudeen, who works next to the bar, wondered why everyone can’t come together to slow the spread.
“Why can’t we just all be on one page?” he said.
Some business owners said they’re aware of the increase in cases, but they feel their hands are tied with little help from local, state and federal authorities.
The sheriff’s office said there were no arrests or summons issued during Wednesday’s demonstration.
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