When Danny Presti, the owner of Mac’s Public House, was ordered to shut down his business in response to rising COVID numbers in New York City, his response was not what the Governor or the Mayor were expecting. Presti kept on operating the pub in defiance of the executive orders. In response, the state fined him $1,000 and moved to suspend his liquor license. Danny upped the ante by declaring he wouldn’t pay the fine and putting up a sign in the bar’s window declaring it to be “an autonomous zone,” and kept right on serving his customers. This led to an attempt to arrest him by New York Sheriff’s deputies over the weekend.
That’s when things took a turn for the worse. Presti attempted to flee the scene rather than be subject to arrest. In the process, he allegedly rammed his vehicle into sheriff’s sergeant Kenneth Matos, breaking both of his ankles. (Presti’s attorney is disputing the extent of the sergeant’s injuries, but how he would know the details of his medical condition is a mystery.) Presti was eventually taken into custody, but now he’s been released on bail. Apparently, the bail reform laws don’t apply if you try to run down a law enforcement officer. Now he’s back at his bar and finding a tide of financial support flooding into his coffers from his supporters in the community. (New York Post)
The Staten Island bar owner who allegedly drove into a sheriff returned to his watering hole Monday night for another Fox News interview — and said he’s happy for the financial backing he’s received from supporters online.
“It’s great and once we sort through this, the goal for the page is also to help get small business back on open,” Danny Presti told The Post as he walked into Mac’s Public House ahead of the 9:30 p.m. interview.
A GoFundMe page organized by Presti to help support his bar raised over $92,000 by Monday night.
This entire adventure has quickly spiraled out of control into a misguided mess that shouldn’t be generating this type of public support. I’ll confess that I was initially an admirer of Danny Presti when he declared that the spurious shutdown orders from the state and municipal government were killing his business and costing his workers their jobs. He decided to fight back to make a point for the local business community and he did it the only way he knew how. But I had assumed that this would turn into a court case similar to ones we’ve seen in California and allow a judge to decide if the government had overstepped its bounds.
If that’s how it had played out, I would have been fine with it. But the moment Presti made the decision to resist arrest and (allegedly) ram into a law enforcement officer with his Jeep, he stepped well over the line and engaged in unacceptable criminal behavior. He had literally dared the Governor to send someone down to pry his liquor license off of the mirror behind his bar and arrest him. And that’s precisely what was happening over the weekend. But the proper course of action at that point would have been to go along with the Sheriff’s Deputies to be booked and certainly be immediately released. He could then have called his attorney and prepared to fight the matter out in court.
No matter how chaotic all of this pandemic melodrama becomes, we simply can’t endorse someone assaulting law enforcement officers, despite how noble their cause might seem. If we do that, we’re no better than the Antifa mobs that have been flooding the streets, causing injury, property damage and mayhem. Presti may be claiming that this was an accident and not an intentional act of vehicular assault, but that’s not the point. The officer wouldn’t have been hit by the vehicle if Danny wasn’t attempting to flee and avoid arrest. And that puts him in the wrong.
Looking for a fight with the state and municipal governments over their inconsistent shutdown orders and other executive actions is perfectly fine. But that fight needs to happen in front of a judge and it doesn’t involve fisticuffs or the bumpers of Jeeps. The nearly $100K that’s been raised for Danny should have been going to help pay his employees and keep his business afloat. Now it’s probably going to be burned up on his legal defense and the bar will wind up remaining closed anyway. So when viewed in that light, nothing positive has really been accomplished here.