The owner of a North Carolina tattoo shop arrested in April for opening his business during coronavirus lockdown is calling for that state’s governor to be impeached.
Matthew “Jax” Myers owns Apex Tattoo Factory in Apex, North Carolina. On April 29, 2020, he opened his tattoo shop in defiance of lockdown orders enacted by Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
He said his business has three employees: himself, his wife and his daughter. It was shut down by Cooper’s orders on March 14.
Even though Cooper has legal authority to shut down most businesses and keep most citizens inside during the pandemic, Myers said he abused that power.
“No one man should have that much power,” Myers said of Cooper. Myers told the Caller he believes Cooper should be impeached over his actions during the crisis. An email to Cooper’s office requesting comment was left unreturned as of Thursday. (RELATED: Fauci Flips On Lockdown: Staying Home Too Long Could Cause ‘Irreparable Damage’)
Myers said Cooper was using a North Carolina law which grants him broad powers during an emergency to enforce the lockdown — specifically, code 166A-19.30 Part A.
The statute includes giving the governor the power to “take such action and give such directions to State and local law enforcement officers and agencies as may be reasonable and necessary for the purpose of securing compliance with the provisions of this Article and with the orders, rules, and regulations made pursuant thereto.”
Frustrated, having “burned through” his savings, he decided to open his shop back up in late April.
“I am going to work tomorrow,” Myers said in an April 28 Facebook post. The next day, he opened his shop.
“I did it out of protest; I never intended to take a customer,” he told the Caller. “It was a form of civil protest.”
He said he was the only person in his shop when the local police came and arrested him. An email to the Apex Police Department, which carried out the arrest, was still unreturned on Thursday.
“It sucked,” Myers told the Caller, discussing the arrest. He also said he holds a concealed carry permit and is worried the arrest may jeopardize that.
Myers said part of his frustration was difficulty accessing the promised resources. “The SBA thing was a disaster,” he said, explaining that he repeatedly applied for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) but each time his application was somehow incomplete.
He called and emailed for guidance but says none came. He also told the Caller that he has yet to receive his $1,200 stimulus check as of Thursday. In the last two weeks, he says he’s received unemployment benefits which will keep him afloat, but that they still weren’t enough.
“If it wasn’t for my landlord being more gracious to me,” Myers said he might not have been able to make ends meet.
He said his criminal case remains open and he faces up to six months in jail as well as a fine.
He is working on getting a lawyer and believes he has a strong case.
“When I was arrested, I hadn’t even broken his order,” he said. “They arrested me for allegedly working at my business.”
A call to the Wake County District Attorney’s Office, which would handle the case, was left still unreturned Thursday.
Myers said he has personally seen the destructive effect of the shutdown. He said that a friend of his, a firefighter, committed suicide because the isolation triggered his depression.
“He was stuck at home,” Myers said of his friend. When they spoke a few days before the suicide, Myers told the Caller his friend said his depression was “getting to” him.
He said if Cooper had trusted his citizens, most business owners would have taken the necessary precautions while remaining open.
In his case, even before the shutdown, he and his staff wore masks. The shop had two large bottles of hand sanitizer and the shop had ordered disinfectant wipes.
He said that since his arrest, tattoo shop owners have reached out to him to thank him for what he’s done. He believes tattoo shops will be devastated by widespread closures.