Police arrested the owners of the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, for defying Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) coronavirus restrictions, according to a video posted to the gym’s Facebook page Monday morning.
“Welcome to America 2020, where feeding your family and standing up for your Constitutional rights is illegal,” the gym’s Facebook post reads. “@govmurphy flexing his little tyrant muscles finally — only took him 70 days.”
“Officers from the county sheriffs entered the premises without a warrant or adhering to the signage posted on the door requesting they call first,” the post continued. “They took Frank and I away and boarded up our private place of business.”
“This is gonna be fun in court. If this doesn’t alarm you, you’re part of the problem. Please share and repost, let’s make these idiots answer for their power trip,” the post added:
The gym owners made waves in May after reopening in defiance of Murphy’s orders, which forced “nonessential” businesses to remain closed. Days later, the state’s health department shut the business down.
“It’s a gross abuse of power,” co-owner Ian Smith said at the time, vowing to remain steadfast.
“We’re gonna defend our rights,” he added.
While the gym eventually reopened, the state shut it down yet again last week after a judge ruled that the business was in contempt of Murphy’s order. Officials said they have received multiple reports of people entering the gym following the judge’s ruling.
According to CBSN Philly, the co-owners, Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, have been “staying inside the gym” since the judge’s ruling. They are both facing “one count of fourth-degree contempt, obstruction, and violation of disaster control act — both disorderly persons summons,” according to the outlet.
“Both owners refused to leave the gym when asked, resulting in the charges,” CBSN Philly reported.
BJ Dowlen, who identified the gym owners as her book clients, said she spent the night at the gym to write and observed the arrest, posting a photo to Facebook as well:
An attorney for the gym owners told CBS3 that they are “expected to be issued a complaint and released later today.”
Gov. Murphy, who this month ordered individuals to wear masks outdoors, signed an executive order in June establishing rules for “individualized instruction at gyms and fitness centers,” permitting them to offer “individualized indoor instruction by appointment only where an instructor is offering training to an individual, and the individual’s immediate family members, household members, caretakers, or romantic partners.”
“If a gym or fitness center is offering multiple simultaneous instructions at the same facility, these instructions must take place in separate rooms or, if they take place in the same room, must be separated by a floor-to-ceiling barrier that complies with all fire code requirements,” the governor’s office stated.