Robby Dinero, U.S. military veteran and gym owner of Athletes Unleashed in New York, ripped up a $15,000 lockdown fine during a live Fox News appearance on Tuesday, Nov. 24.
The Erie County Health Department fined Dinero after a confrontation with health department officials on Friday for holding a protest inside his closed gym for local business owners. They were concerned for their livelihood after the state shut down portions of Erie County following the yellow zone declaration made by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo last week.
A video of the confrontation went viral on social media, in which the business owners told the health department official and the sheriff to “go get a warrant” and leave their “private property.”
Business owners in Buffalo, NY demand “health inspector” leave private property. “Go get a warrant.”
— Justin Hart (@justin_hart) November 21, 2020
Speaking with Fox News’ Sandra Smith, Dinero argued the lockdown restrictions go too far.
“Any infringement on our liberty goes too far. We were born with inalienable rights bestowed on us by our creator. They are guaranteed by the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights,” Dinero said. “Our freedom cannot end where people’s fear starts.”
Dinero also noted that Cuomo and Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz received $225,000 and $103,000 salaries, respectively, via taxpayers while they shut down others’ businesses. He challenged Cuomo and Poloncarz to look at their constituents’ children in the eyes and tell them their parents’ work is not “essential.”
Dinero then tore up the $15,000 fine at the end of the interview as others gathered behind him, chanted, “We will not comply.”
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw started a GoFundMe to help Dinero. He called out Poloncarz in a statement.
“Mark Poloncarz crossed a line. Punitively punishing a small business owner that served our country is despicable. People are fed up. The resistance against power-hungry politicians destroying businesses with arbitrary COVID rules they make up as they go along has begun. Enough is enough,” Mychajliw said.
“Mark Poloncarz is a bully that cares more about shutting down the economy, closing schools, regulating churches, and damaging families than protecting the health of our community,” he added.
In August, a group of over 1,500 gym owners from across the state filed a lawsuit against Cuomo and the state attorney general in an attempt to force the state to allow them to reopen like other businesses such as Walmart and Target.
Cuomo recently faced backlash after he urged New Yorkers to avoid holiday gatherings and travel ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday but planned to invite his mother and daughters to come over. He canceled his Thanksgiving plans after facing criticism.