The owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, are finding out exactly what happens when you cross Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy’s shutdown orders.
According to KYW-TV, Ian Smith, 33, and Frank Trumbetti, 51, were both arrested on Monday after they broke into their own gym to open in defiance of the Garden State’s lockdown measures when it comes to gyms. The move was the latest in a series of escalating battles between the owners of the gym and state authorities over whether or not Smith and Trumbetti have the ability to run their business.
On Saturday, they struck back.
Just happened: Owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, closed by the state in dispute over pandemic regulations, kick in the front door to re-open pic.twitter.com/Lqx2H4gCFB
— jim walsh (@jimwalsh_cp) August 1, 2020
They “kicked in plywood panels that had sealed the entrance to their business since Monday, drawing cheers from a group of flag-waving supporters,” the Courier-Post reported.
It was their first return to the gym since Monday, when they were arrested for defiantly re-opening their gym on July 24.
From July 24 to July 27 — when they were arrested — authorities said they saw people going in and out of the gym in contravention of the governor’s order.
On Monday, this was the result:
“Welcome to America 2020, where feeding your family and standing up for your Constitutional rights is illegal,” stated a notice on the gym’s Facebook page, apparently written by Smith.
“@govmurphy flexing his little tyrant muscles finally – only took him 70 days. 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. This is gonna be fun in court. If this doesn’t alarm you, you’re part of the problem.”
Both were charged with a single count of fourth-degree contempt, obstruction and violation of the Disaster Control Act.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the arrest was yet another escalation in the state’s long-running battle with Atilis Gym and its owners.
In May, after a series of appearances by the owers on Fox News to express their frustration with the reopening process in New Jersey, Atilis reopened.
Courts quickly ordered them shut down. Since then, it’s been a back-and-forth between the state and the gym’s owners, who merely say they want to get back to work.
Ten days prior to this latest Atilis-related arrest, Murphy said he had no plans to work on reopening gyms, saying that the state was “largely in a holding pattern” regarding its coronavirus reopening.
“Believe me, I want to get to gyms, I want to get to indoor dining, I want to get to theaters,” Murphy said, according to NJ.com.
“But we can’t do it if we think we’re gonna have a likelihood of killing people.”
The state’s been dealing with an increased number of COVID-19 cases, including a rate of transmission above 1 — meaning, on average, each person is passing it on to more than one person.
But rogue gym re-openings aren’t quite on the list of things driving the increased number of cases. Indoor parties are one reason New Jersey is having issues controlling the rate of transmission, but hardly the only one. There are also more issues with long-term care facilities and those bringing the coronavirus into New Jersey from outside states.
Furthermore, New Jersey has been hard hit by the other effects of the coronavirus: namely, the economic ones. Over 1.44 million New Jerseyans have filed for unemployment since the beginning of the pandemic.
But, no: The business was boarded up by authorities because a judge ruled Atilis Gym needed to obey the governor’s dictum that gyms must only open for individual training sessions.
And Saturday, Smith and Trumbetti tore down those boards and opened up again.
“Several dozen people watched from the parking lot, many waving American flags and listening to patriotic music blasting from speakers in front of the gym. Several attendees had traveled from other parts of New Jersey, and some waved anti-Murphy signs or wore pro-Trump accessories,” The Inquirer reported.
“At one point, after a song expressing support for President Donald Trump, Smith asked a supporter who was managing the music to ensure that no partisan music be played. ‘Not everybody is on the same page,’ he said. ‘We don’t talk politics in the gym.’”
Instead, they worked out — with each person getting a contactless temperature screening and their own bottle of hand sanitizer. Smith and Trumbetti said they were only letting 40 to 50 people in at a time, what they said was 25 percent of the gym’s capacity. While the gym has logged 13,000 visits in the last few weeks, not one COVID-19 case has been been traced to its members.
“You can do this safely,” Smith said told The Inquirer. “You can’t say that all gyms have bad ventilation. Some might — but to put them all in one category shows you don’t understand discrepancies and nuance. It shows you’re not actually interested in helping small businesses.”
However, he said it was likely law enforcement would show up again soon to shut them down under the Murphy administration.
“Gov. Murphy has weaponized the police force against us over and over,” Smith said. “I think he looks foolish, the way he’s treating us — he’s pulling out all the stops. You have to ask, ‘How far will one man go to destroy a small business?’”
If history is any judge, pretty far.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.