Proud Boys Among Hundreds at Protest Supporting Staten Island 'Autonomous Zone' Violating COVID Restrictions

Supporters of the far-right Proud Boys group were among hundreds in attendance at a protest against the closure of a New York bar that has been openly flaunting COVID-19 guidelines.

The large crowd gathered outside Mac's Public House in Staten Island on Wednesday night to show support for the business that has declared itself an "Autonomous Zone" and continued to serve customers in defiance of the area's ban on indoor dining as a result of the high coronavirus infection rate.

The bar was shut down on Tuesday and its co-owner Danny Presti was arrested after ignoring orders from the city's sheriff's department to stop serving customers inside.

"Proud Boys in the house," a handful of people chanted outside Mac's Public House during the protest, reported New York Post. Another man urged the crowd to chant, "I am a proud Western Chauvinist" before segueing into Queen's "We Will Rock You."

Earlier that day, Republican State Sen. Andrew Lanza was nearly arrested after he attempted to force his way past several sheriff's deputies and into Mac's Public House.

Lanza was told that only the bar owner's lawyers were allowed into bar, to which he said he was going to be their "free-of-charge attorney," reported the Advance/SILive.com.

Lanza then attempted to draw up a makeshift retainer out of cardboard which he and co-owner Keith McAlarney signed to make a "legally binding" contract. When he tried to make his way through the door, Lanza was restrained by sheriff's deputies who put his hands behind his back as if they were going to handcuff him, but he was ultimately not arrested.

"Somebody's got to stand up for the little guy and that's what I am trying to do here," Lanza said. "People are frustrated, they are angry and they are a little defiant. And it's understandable."

Mac's has become a focal point in the mainly Republican borough after its owners declared it an "Autonomous Zone" on November 20. It has attempted to skirt the pandemic restriction laws by serving food and alcohol for free in exchange for a contribution.

"We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forward by the Mayor of NYC and the Governor of NY State," the bar posted on its Facebook page.

"I was trying to get their attention so that they would work with the industry instead of being lazy with their decisions and just closing things down," McAlarney told The New York Times from inside the business on Wednesday night.

Health experts have suggested that bars have been one of the main culprits in spreading the virus in the city. McAlarney is not convinced and said people should be able to decide for themselves.

"If you feel that it's not safe to go out, then choose to stay home," he said.

In a statement to The Times, Jack Sterne, a spokesman for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, criticized McAlarney for what he said amounted to a political stunt.

"This owner is learning that actions have consequences," Sterne said. "Breaking the law and putting your neighbors' lives at risk during a global pandemic to make a political statement is simply unacceptable."

There were reportedly no arrests or major incidents as a result of the protest. The New York City Sheriff's Office has been contacted for comment.

proud boys
File photo: A man wears a Proud Boy vest as several hundred members of the Proud Boys and similar groups gathered at Delta Park in Portland, Oregon on September 26, 2020. Proud Boys were among hundreds in attendance at a protest against the closure of a New York bar. MARANIE R. STAAB/AFP/Getty