Defiant NJ Gym Owner: They Put Me in Handcuffs and Took Me to Jail

Ian Smith, the co-owner of New Jersey’s Atilis Gym who was arrested on Monday after allegedly violating coronavirus lockdown orders, told the “Todd Starnes Show” that all his arrest did was provide the state’s Democrat governor a chance to “flex his little tyrant muscles.”

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Smith, 33, and his partner, Frank Trumbetti, 51, were charged with fourth-degree contempt, obstruction and other charges. He said at one point, while they were sitting in the holding cell, the two laughed because one of the charges was so archaic that it was no longer in the computer system at the jail.

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“[Gov. Phil] Murphy showed his true colors by arresting small businessmen as he lets out criminals all over the state of New Jersey,” Smith said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of his policies.”

Todd Starnes, the host of the show, said it was outrageous that a businessman could face that kind of penalty while criminals roam free and parts of the country continue to see arson, looting, rioting and daily assaults on police officers.

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“And yet you’re the guys that they say, ‘We’re going to make an example out of you two,'” Starnes said.

Smith has been a vocal critic of Murphy since he ordered gyms and other businesses to close on March 21.

Smith said that he and his partner were camped out in the gym since Thursday when deputies arrived early Monday morning. The two had two weeks’ worth of clothing and were prepared to stay inside the gym until they were arrest. The arrest became more and more inevitable after they lost a contempt of court case against Murphy on Friday. By that time, Smith said he removed the gym’s front doors so the governor could not padlock them again.

“You can’t change the locks if there’s no doors,” Smith said.

He said Camden County Sheriff deputies arrived just after 5 a.m. on Monday, handcuffed them, and made the arrests. He said the officers clearly did not want to be there, but he said the interaction was cordial. He said he will reserve his criticism to the elected officials who are putting these deputies in the awkward position.

“Murphy showed his true colors by arresting small businessmen as he lets out criminals all over the state of New Jersey,” Smith said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of his policies.”

Smith said the state routinely drops charges against George Floyd protesters but is going full-steam ahead in their case even though he said he and his partner have been peaceful and very public about their actions.

“It’s a double standard and it’s clear as day,” he said.

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