Bellmawr, New Jersey: Police Ordered Back to Reopened Gym
Bellmawr, New Jersey: When Atilis Gym reopened in defiance of Gov Phil Murphy’s lockdown orders, police showed up and said, “Have a nice day. Be safe.” No muss, no fuss. The crowd cheered and yelled “We won!” But police were back soon after with summonses, as Gov Murphy threatened the owners. The gym owners opened again on Tuesday (more citations) and again on Wednesday, according to Patch.com.
Owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti both stated they were scared, but believed they needed to stand up and stay open.
UPDATE: The state of New Jersey changed the locks of the Atilis Gym to shut them down. They are hoping to open on Wednesday this week because of the infringement on their rights.
— Atilis Gym Bellmawr (@TheAtilisGym) May 18, 2020
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported:
Atilis Gym operated at 20% capacity and allowed only 44 members inside. All members were required to undergo a temperature check and fill out a medical questionnaire and waiver. Only members were allowed in, and the gym was not accepting new sign-ups Monday, owners said.
Inside, equipment was spread out and members were required to wear masks unless in the middle of a set. Each member received a spray bottle to wipe down equipment before and after use.
Members arrived early to secure their place in line. Jen Grasolia of Sicklerville said she was eager to “get some normalcy back.”
The Shore News Network reported,
Police officers then began following gym patrons exiting the facility to their vehicles and asking the for identification, even trailing patrons in their vehicles after leaving the property.
On Monday, arriving officers seemed almost supportive of the gym’s civil disobedience.
“We have come to advise you that you’re in violation of an executive order,” the officer told the owners. “We are and were always here for everyone’s safety. We planned for the worst and hoped for the best and that’s what we have here today. Formally you are all in violation of the executive order. On that note, have a good day, everybody be safe.”
That changed when officers returned to issue summonses to the business owners. Later that day, Governor Phil Murphy threatened the business owners and patrons of the business.
“If you show up at that gym tomorrow, there will be a different reality than showing today, these aren’t just words, we also have to enforce this, but I also don’t want to start World War III. I’m not worried about that right now, but people are doing the right thing…because they’re smart.”
Newsflash, Governor Murphy, you may have become part of what starts a war.
Breaking: Bellmawr Co-owners of Atilis Gym, Ian Smith&Frank Trumbetti RE-open their gym 2nd day. Members going in safely 2 at a time getting temps taken, answering questionnaire&given disinfectant etc. the morning after threat of action from @GovMurphy @FOX29philly pic.twitter.com/FFT5thB3rk
— Steve Keeley (@KeeleyFox29) May 19, 2020
“A different reality” – threats, harassment
Apparently the Governor didn’t approve of the way the officer handled the situation on Monday. He wanted to exert control. So exert he did.
Did the officers have to follow his ridiculous orders? No. But we are living at a time when fear of losing something is creating a giant chasm between those who stand for something important, and those who simply follow orders or the “rules.” Whether it’s fear of losing a job, fear of a virus, or fear of losing control over the people…it’s all a massive cluster.
Law Enforcement is paramilitary in structure, so following orders is a real issue in normal times…but even in the military, following illegal orders is not required. You have to keep your ducks in a row and document everything, but if it’s illegal, it’s illegal. Shutdowns are killing small businesses – and it cannot continue without further drastic consequences.
Featured photo: screenshot via Twitter video