Staten Island ‘autonomous zone’ bar owner arrested for ‘trespassing’ in his own bar after refusing to shut down

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NEW YORK CITY, NY – We at Law Enforcement Today recently reported on the owners of a Staten Island bar that were defying the COVID mandates of shutting down, via declaring their pub as an “autonomous zone”. 

Yet on the evening of December 1st, New York City Sheriff’s deputies arrested one of the bar owners – under charges of trespassing in the very bar where he’s the listed lessee.  

Mac’s Public House happens to be located in an area designated by Governor Andrew Cuomo as an “orange zone” within the state of New York.

In the simplest of terms, an “orange zone” defines an area that is being substantially impacted by current pandemic and thus governmental restrictions are put into effect that mandates what businesses must temporarily close and operational restrictions on essential business that can remain open. 

With Mac’s Public House being an indoor pub within said “orange zone”, the business was among those ordered to close up shop during the period of said designation in Staten Island. 

Bar co-owners Keith McAlarney and Danny Presti had decided to skirt said mandates and keep the bar open by declaring it an “autonomous zone” and giving away their food and drinks for free – only asking that patrons be so kind to offer a “donation” if they enjoyed their service. 

Both Presti and McAlarney have been rather outspoken about their endeavors – and their story has managed to make national news. 

So, it was rather interesting to hear that the New York City Sheriff’s Office had engaged in some plainclothes surveillance of Mac’s Public House on the evening of December 1st after “receiving complaints of indoor dining past the 10 p.m. curfew.”

Because obviously the impetus of a NYSO plainclothes operation/surveillance of the bar that has made national news (and said owners having mocked local and state elected officials) was kicked off over a locally received “complaint”. 

Sheriff’s deputies were said to have posed as guests of the pub and ordered some food and drinks – which said deputies proclaimed that they were forced to make a $40 donation for the service rendered. 

Later that evening, bar co-owner Presti was placed into handcuffs and allegedly arrested under charges of trespassing…in his own bar. 

Video footage was captured during the incident, with Presti’s attorney commenting on the arrest after it transpired: 

“They’re making up charges. They charged him with what they assured me as a criminal trespass. But it’s still a misdemeanor, it’s still a crime and he’s still gonna spend the night in jail for trespassing – quote unquote –  in his own establishment where he is the lease owner and general manager.”

As for the second co-owner of the bar, McAlarney is just frustrated with how small businesses like his and Presti’s are getting left out in the cold while “big companies” get to stay open: 

“If you’re gonna let the big companies do it, you should have found a way to let small businesses be able to do it too.”

McAlarney pointed out a rather fair argument regarding establishments like his and Presti’s being shut down for public health reasons, in that no one is being forced to go to any establishment like theirs:

“If you feel, and you’ve done your research, and you believe that this is something that could end up causing someone in your family to get sick – they choose to stay home.”

“I’m not trying to trivialize anyone who has to go through this. Believe me, I would not do that. I am a very sympathetic person, I would give the shirt off my back to help anybody. But in America, everybody has a choice on how it is they end up wanting to live their lives.”

A statement released by city officials on December 1st mocked the notion of the bar owners declaring their establishment as being an “autonomous zone”:

“COVID-19 doesn’t respect autonomous zones, and neither does the Sheriff. There are consequences for endangering your neighbors in a pandemic.”

While this defiance displayed by the bar owners has caused some controversy within the area, they’ve also managed to amass some pretty substantial support both locally and afar. 

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Here’s our previous report on these two bar owners when they began ruffling the proverbial feathers of elected officials regarding the pandemic mandates. 

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NEW YORK CITY, NY  A bar located in the Staten Island area, considered to be a “hot spot” for COVID-19 cases, is channeling the spirit of the once-present CHAZ that occupied Seattle, Washington over the summer. 

Albeit, the owners of this Staten Island pub are merely adopting the “autonomous zone” labeling and spirit of civil disobedience – and are not emulating any of the other violent/criminal activities associated with Seattle’s CHAZ/CHOP debacle. 

Outside of Mac’s Public House in the Grant City neighborhood of New York City’s Staten Island, there lies several posters showcasing the following message: 

“Attention! As of November 20, 2020, we hereby declare this establishment an autonomous zone! We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the Mayor of NYC and Governor of NY State.”

The signage is an apparent response to the recent designation of the Staten Island area by Governor Andrew Cuomo as being an “Orange Zone”: 

“Staten Island is a problem. The number of hospitalizations in Staten Island have gone, over the last three weeks, they basically tripled.”

Areas designated as “Orange Zones” within the state have a myriad of restrictions pertaining to businesses, such as the closure of “non-essential” businesses like gyms and hair salons. 

Of course, among those “Orange Zone” restrictions is the prohibition of indoor dining, which adversely affects the running of Mac’s Public House, as it is an indoor pub. 

So the owners of the bar, Keith McAlarney and Danny Presti decided to flout said restrictions and keep their doors open.

This resulted in the business getting handed down numerous fines in the thousands-of-dollars from the sheriff’s office and a shut-down order coming from the state health department. 

By November 27, after continuing to keep the business open to patrons, the State Liquor Authority revoked the liquor license for the business. 

But from what co-owner Presti says of the situation on a video uploaded to YouTube, both he and McAlarney seem unfazed by the whole ordeal: 

“[The Sheriff’s Department] is issuing us $1,000 fines, so they keep coming back. We’re still here. We’re not letting them in. They’re actually really respectable people – they’re just doing what they have to do – at this point, we’re OK with it, because we’re not paying it.”

Presti stated during the video that in response to the revocation of the liquor license, they have decided to serve everything to their customers for free – food, drinks…the works. 

All Presti asked of visiting patrons is that they are kind enough to leave a donation when visiting the establishment so that they can keep up with paying the bills for the pub. 

McAlarney also made comments related to the revocation of the liquor license, essentially challenging officials like Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to come down personally if they want to pull their license: 

“We’re not backing down. You think you scared me by…saying I don’t have a license now to serve liquor? Well, guess what? That liquor license is on the wall.

“If that liquor license is gonna come off the wall, it’s gonna be done by Cuomo. You wanna come down here and pull that license off the wall? Or ‘de Bozo’, you wanna come down here and pull that license off the wall?

“Feel free to come on down and we’ll have a conversation before you even think about stepping foot on my property. I will not back down.”

On November 28, the business was said to have been hosting about five patrons during a 2-hour period that were enjoying the free food and drinks. 

One of the patrons, Keith Atherholt, left behind a $100 tip for the service rendered during his trip to the pub, voicing his support of the owners: 

“I totally support what he is doing. I don’t support the tyrannical nonsense they have in place. I gave them $100 for this water. They didn’t charge me. I gave it to support them.”

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