November 23, 2020

NY Business Owners Refuse to Close, Accuse Health Dept. of Trespassing

  • Flyover Country

By: Amy Jo Underwood

In Brief:

A group of business owners in Buffalo, New York, informed health officials and the sheriff’s department that they would not cease operations nor abide by guidelines without a warrant. The officials eventually left the premises after being informed that they were trespassing and that the government mandates were not law. 

The Background:

According to WBEN, around one hundred business owners gathered in a gym in Buffalo, New York, in noncompliance with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s mandate for gatherings of fewer than ten persons. An anonymous person reported them, and health department officials and the sheriff’s departments showed up and attempted to break up the gathering. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state of New York have shut down gyms, hair salons, and many other personal services, stating that New York is in a high risk state. 

The business owners informed the sheriffs that they needed to meet in order to maintain their livelihoods. The officials declared that the restrictions were for health reasons, as a “code enforcement,” despite the answer from the business owners that their health was a private concern.  

In a video taken by the group of business owners, the businessmen stated that the sheriffs and health officials needed a warrant, and informed the sheriffs that they were trespassing on private property. They were told that it was a government mandate. One of the business owners clarified that a mandate was not a law, and that they needed to leave the premises. 

According to Buffalo News, Robby Dinero, the owner of the gym in which the meeting was held, stated that the gathering was a form of protest. He stated to Buffalo News that there was nothing illegal about the meeting, and that he was entitled to call a meeting of business owners to protest the closing of small businesses. Earlier in the year, Dinero was threatened by the police and told that he would have his utilities shut off if he did not close his gym. He stated that he believed that COVID-19 was a real health issue, but that the government was acting arbitrarily. Dinero and the other business owners stated that they were willing to abide by restrictions but that they needed to be fairly applied toward businesses and with regard to the livelihoods of small business owners. 

Notable Quotes:

“Dinero pointed out that authorities didn't try to stop Black Lives Matter protests over the summer or celebrations of Joe Biden's victory after the election. ‘It was no problem for people to come out then,’ he said.” - Buffalo News. 

 

Amy Jo Underwood writes from Alabama

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