Cruel and Unusual: Man Faces Up To 60 Days in Jail After Opening His Store for 10 Minutes


American law enforcement personnel seem to have gotten liberal with the handcuffs once again this week, arresting a North Carolina small business owner for opening up shop amid the ongoing health pandemic.

According to the Charlotte News & Observer, Matthew “Jax” Myers’ Apex Tattoo Factory had been opened for a grand total of 10 minutes Wednesday before Apex police made sure to enforce the lockdown orders.

First put in place by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in March, Cooper’s orders restricting travel and temporally shuttering close-contact businesses deemed “nonessential” were officially extended through May 8 late last month.

Unable to shoulder the rising cost of a government-mandated business closure, however, Myers made the decision to open his tattoo parlor and take his chances.

The gamble would be a potentially costly one, resulting not only in arrest but the filing of formal charges as well for violation of “Emergency Prohibitions and Restrictions, North Carolina General Statute 14-288.20A,” according to WRAL.

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A conviction would leave Myers eligible to serve a sentence of up to 60 days in jail or pay a fine not exceeding $1,000.

Talk about cruel and unusual punishment — particularly with the 38-year-old father of three telling The News & Observer he’s afraid he won’t be able to keep his family fed or make payments on a newly purchased home.

Of course, the faceless, bureaucratic state couldn’t care less about that.

Myers alleged struggles to secure the unemployment aid necessary to make ends meet and an inability to secure small business relief through the federal government’s recently replenished Paycheck Protection Program were an afterthought when the government demanded. (Myers previously made his plans clear on social media, and police had made it clear he wasn’t allowed to reopen.)

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The rules were the rules. Myers’ business was nonessential, as were his family’s needs.

He could take it up with the Wake County Emergency Management Business Liaison and “discuss options,” police said they told him.

Until then, the red “open” sign at Apex Tattoo Factory was to remain off.

Despite his failure to comply, the small business owner was reportedly polite in his interactions with law enforcement.

“While understanding of and generally cooperative with officers, he refused to come into compliance with the Proclamation and was subsequently arrested without further incident,” an Apex Police Department statement said.

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This was about sending a message — a message that it was not the American people, but the American government that had grown lawless amid the ongoing pandemic.

“I respect the Apex Police Department,” Myers told WRAL. “And it’s probably with the heaviest of heart of all that this has to happen in Apex … that I have to be the one that’s the first bee swatted.”

“I’m a law-abiding citizen. I’ve done nothing wrong,” he added.

Reports conflict as to whether Myers had any intention of following through with tattoo appointments when he was arrested for opening Wednesday.

According to The News & Observer, the tattoo artist has several months of backed up work on stand-by and suggested he was sanitizing the facility twice every three hours.

“If people are willing to take the risk … it’s their body and their choice,” Myers said of tattooing amid the pandemic — an argument that should resonate with cynical pro-abortion Democrats like Cooper, but I digress.

Myers told WRAL, however, “I was never actually intending on tattooing anybody; it was in protest.”

And it sounds like he’ll continue protesting.

Already frequent attendees at North Carolina’s recent “ReOpenNC” rallies, Myers and his wife Amber are reportedly more resolved than ever that more must be done to protest the ongoing government-imposed shutdown.

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Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosted the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.