BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–Over the weekend members of the group “Athletes Unleashed” pushed back as local leaders try to enforce the governor’s order to close gyms in the “orange zone.”
And it may have been one of the first real tests for enforcing gathering restrictions indoors as a health department inspector and two sheriff deputies walked out of a large gathering after being told to leave.
“We can’t breathe free anymore.”
Liberty Movement founder Jim Ostrowski is calling it “The Battle of Orchard Park.”
On Friday night, a crowd of 60 assembled in “Athletes Unleashed” to protest COVID restrictions, when a county health inspector showed up with two sheriff’s deputies.
The crowd asked to see a search warrant and after five minutes, the inspector and deputies walked out.
“We are trying to take our freedom back. We have sense enough ourselves to govern ourselves. Yes, the virus is real, we understand that it’s no need to lock down our economy,” local business owner Derrick Gilbert said.
The sheriff put out a statement saying his office does not manage or enforce COVID restrictions. That, he says, is the sole responsibility of the Erie County Health Department.
The statement goes on to say that since the spring, deputies have been providing security to inspectors but have not interfered with passive resistance.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says, “almost every parcel of property in Western New York, unless it’s owned by government, is private property but our health sanitarians, as well as others, have the right to go in and enforce the rules.”
“If Mark Poloncarz and Andrew Cuomo want to see these enforced and they’re worried about something happening, then they should personally come and see the damage they’re causing,” Libertarian Party Chair Duane Whitmer said.