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Hundreds protest over shutdown of New York’s ‘autonomous zone’ bar

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The owner of a New York City bar was arrested Tuesday for continuing to provide indoor service despite coronavirus restrictions that forbid indoor dining. On Nov. 22, Mac’s Public House announced on Facebook that they were an “autonomous zone.”

“As of November 20th 2020, we have declared Mac’s Public House an Autonomous Zone. We would like to clarify what this means, specifically to us, and how we’ll operate business going forward. The simple answer to most questions is Mac’s will be doing ‘business as usual.’ In the event of a shutdown, we will continue to stay open,” they wrote on Facebook.

A week after the Facebook post, the New York State Liquor Authority suspended the bar’s liquor license after an investigator was prohibited from entering the bar. That day, owner Danny Presti announced that the bar would serve alcohol and food indoors for free in exchange for a “donation.”

Undercover sheriff’s deputies went inside the bar Tuesday and ordered food in exchange for the required $40 “donation.” Deputies then shut down the bar and began issuing citations to employees for violating local and state restrictions, New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito told ABC News.

Presti was charged with obstruction of governmental administration in addition to the charges from serving unauthorized food and beverage, the sheriff said. A cook, bartender and the bar’s lawyer were also charged.

A video posted to YouTube by the Associated Press shows Presti being led out of the bar by sheriffs while a crowd chants, “Stand your ground!” “F— Cuomo!” and “Open up!”

The bar has been fined thousands of dollars as it continued to serve customers inside and to operate past the 10 p.m. curfew for restaurant service that Gov. Andrew Cuomo imposed citywide.

A large crowd began to assemble outside of the bar Wednesday to protest the restrictions.

The bar was closed for business Wednesday. Eight NYC sheriff officers were seen guarding the bar entrance.

Mac’s Public House is raising donations through their Facebook page by selling t-shirts printed with “We Stand With Mac’s Public House” and “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.”

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The bar’s defiance is part of a larger pushback from bars and restaurants in New York City as hundreds of bars and restaurants have permanently closed because of coronavirus restrictions.

“What we will not be doing is living in fear. By fear, we mean the constant threat of our local city and state governments sending agencies in to check up, fine and threaten to shut us down. Every day small businesses are living in fear, not just of this virus, but that our governments will take our livelihoods away, even as we’re being safe. Just to clarify, we acknowledge this virus as a real threat and are still taking necessary precautions. What we do not acknowledge is that our government has the right to shut us down when we’re operating in a safe manner,” Mac’s Public House wrote on Facebook.

“We should not live in fear of our government, and this is how we’ve felt for almost an entire year. At a time when our local government should have assisted and helped us, they have done exactly the opposite. This a vote of no confidence of the leadership of this city and state. We are New Yorkers, and we are stubborn and we are proud but more importantly we are a community. We need to be there for each other and we promise Mac’s Public House will be there for each and every one of you. We hope you have a great holiday and you and your family are safe. When you’re ready, Mac’s will be here doing “business as usual.”

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CO leaders stating they won’t use any city money to support migrants or to alleviate the crisis in Denver

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In February 2018, Denver city leaders sent a valentine to foreigners interested in relocating to the progressive mountain city and a message to any elected officials looking to stop them:

Draped on Denver’s City and County building was a large, blue banner: “Denver ❤️ Immigrants.”

Then-mayor Michael Hancock event posted on social media that it was a statement of “love” to let immigrants know that Denver is “an open and welcoming city.” However, six years later, Denver residents are facing an uphill battle of repercussions from the liberal leaders’ actions. Amid a crisis that has seen more than 40,000 migrants arrive in the city since late 2022, Denver leaders have a new message: If you stay in Denver, you will suffer.

“The opportunities are over,” an official with new mayor Mike Johnston’s office told a gathering of migrants in Spanish inside a city shelter in late March, according to a video obtained by a local television station. “New York gives you more. Chicago gives you more.”

On Monday, Douglas County filed a lawsuit against the state of Colorado and its Democratic governor Jared Polis in Denver District Court over the issue.

The lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of two state laws passed by Democrats in the Colorado legislature: a 2019 law that restricted the ability of local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration officials in civil cases, and a 2023 law that prohibits local governments from entering or renewing detention agreements with ICE and that prohibits them from funding immigration detention facilities owned or operated privately.

“The nation is facing an immigration crisis. The nation, the state, and local governments need to cooperate and share resources to address this crisis,” the lawsuit states, adding that the 2019 and 2023 laws in question “prohibit the necessary cooperation and create dangerous conditions for the State and migrants.”

Teal contends that “the state doesn’t have the inherent authority to limit the ability of a local jurisdiction to work with any agency, regardless be it local, state, or federal.” By doing so, he said, “the state is inhibiting the local communities, the local jurisdictions from providing for the safety” of their residents.

“We are seeing what is going on in Denver, and we do not want that coming here to Douglas County. It is not safe,” Douglas County commissioner Lora Thomas, a former state trooper, said during a Monday morning press conference announcing the lawsuit.

Douglas commissioner Abe Laydon said on Monday that the lawsuit “is about putting America first and about putting Coloradans first.” As a Latino, he said, he recognizes “the plight of those seeking refuge and asylum here in the United States,” but he added that “Douglas County is a place where quality of life comes first.”

National Review reports on the mile-high city’s crisis:

In January, the city was housing and feeding almost 5,000 migrants, mostly Venezuelans, in hotel shelters. Other migrants slept in tents on sidewalks and in parking lots, adding a new wrinkle to Denver’s ongoing struggles with panhandling and squalid homeless camps.

At intersections throughout Denver, migrants with water bottles and squeegees head into traffic to try to make a few bucks washing drivers’ windshields.

To address a migrant-driven financial crunch, the city is now cutting hours at local rec centers, slashing park programming, and freezing hiring in some departments. To save a little money, the city has decided against planting flowers in some of its parks and medians this spring.

The migrant crisis has cost the Denver region at least $170 million, according to a conservative estimate by Colorado’s Common Sense Institute, which looked at city spending as well as school and hospital costs, and is almost surely an undercount.

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