Supporters rally for shuttered New York bar that had been blatantly flouting COVID-19 restrictions

Posted at 10:24 AM, Dec 03, 2020

NEW YORK CITY — For the second straight night, demonstrators rallied in support of a Staten Island bar that has been blatantly violating coronavirus restrictions despite the rising spread of the virus in the area.

More than 100 protesters packed the area outside Mac's Public House on Wednesday night to support the bar that New York City Sheriff's deputies shut down on Tuesday.

Demonstrators questioned the reasoning behind COVID-19 restrictions and were critical that certain businesses — like chain retail stores — were allowed to stay open while local bars have been shut down.

On Tuesday, the New York Sheriff's Office initiated surveillance at Mac's Public House after receiving numerous complaints that the bar was violating state health orders that have shuttered indoor dining at restaurants and instituted a 10 p.m. curfew.

Deputies said that a sign on the bar's window declares itself in an "autonomous zone."

Authorities said plain-clothes deputies 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.

Deputies also say they saw other patrons also eating and drinking inside the bar.

At 5:40 p.m., deputies entered the establishment through the unlocked front door and found 14 people inside the bar.

The sheriff's office said the deputies issued appearance tickets to multiple 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.

Following the arrest, about a dozen officers lined up in front of the bar, blocking patrons from entering.

On Tuesday night, the sheriff's Office said a crowd of about 50 people showed up to protest the shutdown. They were described as "verbal but peaceful."

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

No injuries were reported Tuesday and no other arrests were made.

This story was originally published by Joe Mauceri and Cristian Benavides on WPIX in New York City.