Ian A. Smith, the co-owner of the New Jersey gym at the center of a lockdown fight, told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” Thursday that he has experienced the many tactics a state can employ to intimidate businesses that have committed the Blue State sin of reopening for survival.
Smith, the co-owner of Atilis Gym, told Todd Starnes, the host, that he reopened the business in the town of Bellmawr on Monday after weeks of obeying the state’s lockdown order. He said in the early days of the virus, little was known and he was willing to absorb the financial hit if it meant the safety of the community.
“We were told to give them two weeks to flatten the curve, and we did so,” he said. “We weren’t too happy but—you know—in the interest of public health, we were willing to make that sacrifice.”
He said two weeks turned into four, a month turned into three and the support that politicians promised fell “disastrously short” for most small businesses and he said it seems his business was getting stampeded by the government that seems more interested in political victories than helping businesses.
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Smith opened his gym on Monday and said he was impressed with the community’s support. He said members showed up and others with no gym affiliation. But Bellmawr Police showed up, too, and the only workout they intended to do was to hand out summonses to the business.
Smith said he opened his gym on Tuesday and Gov. Phil Murphy, the Democrat, “changed his tactic” and had police give out citations and summons to his business and also handed them out to members of his gym. He said one person was arrested.
He said despite the intimidation “it really didn’t deter too many people.” But now the citations are beginning to be delivered by mail and police, at one point, set up a camera at the gym’s parking lot to monitor members, he said.
Starnes asked if it was true that police were actually “staking out” his gym and “stalking” its members. Smith said there have been orders from “up high somewhere” that began the surveillance. He said the camera has since been removed after the gym contacted the police to inform them that the parking lot is privately owned.
He said the state appears to be shifting its tactics and making the police force perform tasks that they “clearly do not want to do.”
Starnes said he wants to bring similar stories to light because “it can get lonely out there when you’ve got the Democrats coming after you trying to shut you down.”
Smith said he was undeterred.
“We’re going full-speed ahead,” Smith said, after pointing out that the gym was closed on Thursday due to a “vague” letter from the state’s department of health. He said he consulted with his lawyer and the gym will be open on Friday.