The owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey kicked in their boarded up gym doors after receiving a notice letter Friday threatening to strip them of their business license for defying the state’s lockdown restrictions to remain closed.
Francine Wright, clerk of the Borough of Bellmawr, wrote in the letter to the gym owners that a hearing will occur on Tuesday, August 4 in consideration of “whether to revoke the Atilis Gym’s mercantile license to operate.”
“No mercantile license shall be issued to any person or entity which has not complied with the laws of the State of New Jersey or the ordinances of the Borough of Bellmawr,” Wright wrote in the letter dated July 29. “Any person licensed fails to comply with such laws and ordinances after due notice and opportunity to be heard, the Borough Council may revoke such license.”
Letter: New Jersey Threatens Atilis Gym’s Business License: pic.twitter.com/Fierlrd7r2
— Heather Hunter (@heatherhunterdc) August 2, 2020
The gym owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti responded to the letter the following day by kicking in their boarded up entrance and reopening their gym on Saturday morning.
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I hate the fact that it has to come to this. Governor Murphy can portray us in whatever villainous way he wants, but our hands are forced here and that’s his fault. We are over 4 months into an economic shutdown that was supposed to be 14 days. It is time to end this and resume life in a safe and responsible manner. Small business is not solely responsible for the spread of the virus yet we are targeted as such and unfairly treated. You will not trample on our rights and you will not destroy our lives. We will not back down. Ever. Please share this to show what lengths we have to go to just to make a living for our families.
“It has to come to this … We have to make a statement,” Smith told a crowd outside his business Saturday morning. “[New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy] will go as far as he needs to. He’s made this personal now. And now, it comes to this. We have to wake up early on a Saturday morning and kick our own doors in — just to be in business. Just to feed our families and just to do what is in the constitution.”
— NJ1ST (@_NJ1ST) August 1, 2020
Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy issued a contempt order against the gym owners on July 24. On Monday morning at 5:30 a.m., police arrested Smith and Trumbetti after they refused to leave the gym. Police boarded up their business. (RELATED: New Jersey Gym Owners Arrested After Defying COVID Order)
Can someone tell me why they’re emptying the jails in Democrat states and then filling them with innocent Americans?!
— Rogan O’Handley ???????? (@DC_Draino) July 27, 2020
Smith joined “Tucker Carlson Tonight” following the arrest and called out Gov. Murphy’s actions, saying, “I’m not afraid of tyrants. No American should be. We outnumber them greatly. The only thing they run off of is fear… [Government officials] don’t ever offer any solutions. It’s ‘wear a mask, shut up and wait for a vaccine.’ That’s not public health and I won’t subscribe to it.”
Arrested NJ Gym Owner Ian Smith tonight on Tucker
“They [city officials, media] don’t ever offer any solutions. It’s wear a mask, shut up and wait for a vaccine. That’s not public health and I won’t subscribe to it”. pic.twitter.com/qQJZE6Vms3
— Bubba Smollett (@BubbaSmollett) July 28, 2020
Smith and Trumbetti were charged with fourth-degree contempt, as well as obstruction and violation of a disaster-control act.
Murphy ordered gyms and other businesses to close on March 21 and the gym owners first reopened their gym on May 18 in defiance of the state’s monthslong coronavirus restrictions to keep their business from shutting down. The New Jersey Department of Health followed up with a mandate to have the gym be closed down and they changed the locks. (RELATED: NJ Gym Owners Ticketed For Reopening Amid Government Shutdown)
In a July 1 Facebook video, Smith explained how they were putting their workout equipment outside to accommodate health concerns.
The gym has been raising money for their legal battle via a GoFundMe account Atilis Bellmawr Court Relief.
“You will not trample on our rights and you will not destroy our lives. We will not back down. Ever.” Smith wrote on his Instagram account on Saturday.