'Merica: How NJ Police Handled a Gym's Defiance of Governor's Stay at Home Order Is Everything (Watch)

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

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As the stay at home/shelter in place orders put in place by Democratic governors in states across the country remain in effect, a growing number of citizens in those states have declared that reopening their doors in order to make a living and serve their communities is their Constitutional right, and worth the risk of arrest.

Such was the case in Bellmawr, New Jersey this morning, as the owners of Atilis Gym opened their doors at 8 a.m. in defiance of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. The governor “ordered fitness centers, movie theaters, and casinos closed on March 16 as part of the state’s efforts to fight the pandemic.”

2 months later, owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti were greeted with cheers, American flags, Gadsden flags, Trump flags, and chants of “USA!” as a crowd of supporters joined them during the reopening. Two and a half hours later, Bellmawr police showed up – and what happened next was pretty awesome:

Around 10:30 a.m. local police officers approached the door through the crowd to speak with the gym’s owners. The officers informed them that they were “formally” in violation of the shutdown order.

“We are and only were here for everybody’s safety today. We planned for the worst and hoped for the best, and it seems like that’s what we have out here today,” the officer said to the owners and surrounding crowd.

“Formally, you are all in violation of the executive order. On that note, have a good day. Everybody be safe,” the officer said before walking away as the crowd erupted in cheers.

Watch the video of the officer speaking to the crowd below:

Here’s an overall view of what the crowd looked like and how they reacted when the officer told them to “have a good day”:

The officers did issue the gym a disorderly conduct citation, which Trumbetti indicated he understood:

It’s also worth noting that the gym owners didn’t just fling open the doors without taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their employees and gym members:

Among the precautions the gym owners took were taping off workout stations and operating at 20% of the building’s capacity, meaning about 44 patrons at a time. They also were requiring patrons to wear masks unless they were in the middle of lifting weights.

Gym staff will be taking patrons’ temperatures at the door and anyone at 100.4 or above will not be allowed inside. The gym’s owners also said it wouldn’t allow any new members to join Monday.

The gym also posted a warning from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office that anyone who patronizes a business in violation of the executive order could face a disorderly persons charge.

From the looks of how things were handled by local law enforcement, doesn’t look like that’s going to be happening.

At this morning’s sign in, markers were put on the floor to note how far apart members should stand while waiting to get in:

I look for how the police handled this situation today to happen in other parts of the country in the coming days and weeks. It’s already happening here in North Carolina, as police chiefs, county sheriffs, and even some district attorneys are pushing back hard on the governor’s stay at home order restrictions on church gatherings and businesses reopening.

Police officers and deputies in particular have to work in these communities every day, and it takes away from the goodwill they try to foster with residents when they have to arrest people for exercising their Constitutional rights.