The owners of embattled Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, were arrested Monday morning for opening in defiance of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s lockdown order.
The arrests came after a Superior Court judge ruled Friday that the governor had the authority to shut the gym down and that co-owners Ian Smith, 33, and Frank Trumbetti, 51, were in contempt of court for attempting to keep it open.
Smith and Trumbetti were charged with one count of fourth-degree contempt, one count of obstruction, and one count of Violation of a Disaster Control Act and could face fines for their actions, according to NJ.com.
Authorities reportedly observed “a number of people” entering the gym to use it over the weekend despite the judge’s order.
After the owners refused to leave the gym Monday morning, authorities reportedly arrested them and transported them Bellmawr Police Department for booking before releasing them.
Smith posted a video of his and Trumbetti’s arrests on his Instagram Monday.
“Welcome to America 2020, where feeding your family and standing up for your Constitutional rights is illegal. @govmurphy flexing his little tyrant muscles finally — only took him 70 days,” Smith wrote in the caption.
“Officers from the county sheriffs entered the premises without a warrant or adhering to the signage posted on the door requesting they call first. They took Frank and I away and boarded up our private place of business,” he continued, saying, “This is gonna be fun in court.”
“If this doesn’t alarm you, you’re part of the problem,” he added.
What’s the background?
Atilis Gym made headlines in May after the owners refused to shut down after Murphy’s executive order called on all “nonessential” businesses in the state — including gyms — to close.
Hundreds of supporters gathered outside the gym displayed American and Trump 2020 flags and chanted “USA” and “Let’s get back to work!”
That set off a weeks-long battle with state and local officials, which involved legal challenges and government authorities changing the gym’s locks and constructing barriers to entry. Smith and Trumbetti even alleged that paper towels were stuffed in their plumbing, causing a sewer backup, even though the gym does not have paper towels in its bathrooms.
In response to the ruling Friday, Smith posted a video on his Instagram vowing not to back down even as prosecutors were on their way to change the locks.