Staten Island state Sen. Andrew Lanza was manhandled by sheriffs on Wednesday when he tried to offer pro bono legal help to a defiant bar that’s refusing to obey COVID-19 restrictions.
Lanza was surrounded and even physically restrained by deputies from the city sheriff’s office when he tried to force his way into Mac’s Public House — an owner of which was arrested Tuesday for repeatedly violating state coronavirus restrictions and obstructing authorities who tried to stop him.
Lanza told The Post he showed up to offer bar co-owner Daniel Presti his legal services — and even had to scratch out a legal agreement on a piece of cardboard when sheriffs said only a lawyer on retainer could enter.
“I got a piece of cardboard,” Lanza said. “I wrote out an agreement and basically said, ‘I offer you free legal advice if you want.’ I signed it. [Presti] came out and signed it.”
“The sheriff said ‘That’s good’, but then the lieutenant showed up. She said I needed an order from the court. That’s not true,” he continued.
“I couldn’t believe she was asking as if she was going to arrest me,” he added. “You’d think they had Charles Manson holed up in there, honestly.”
The Staten Island watering hole declared itself an “autonomous zone” free from state coronavirus restrictions that took effect last week as cases rose in the area, including a ban on indoor dining and a 10 p.m. curfew amid a resurgence of the virus.
Mac’s has been slapped with thousands of dollars in fines and the state Liquor Authority yanked the bar’s license — but remained defiant.
Presti, who was released Wednesday, has gained supporters in the community, among them Lanza, who represents Staten Island in Albany.
“The virus is real and we need to protect each other,” he said. “But what people are protesting are the arbitrary and capricious edicts that are coming down from the state.”
“I’m speaking to why people are at their wit’s end,” Lanza said. “I’m speaking to the frustration that they routinely have when they’re closed and across the street is open because there’s no way that science says that we need to close that restaurant but we can open this one across the street.”
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