A video emerged on Facebook over the weekend of Erie County DOH Officials, escorted by members of the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, coming to clash with owner’s and supporters at ‘Athletes Unleashed’ gym in Orchard Park.
“We are asking you to appeal to your compassionate side. I know our tax dollars guarantee you guys get your paychecks, but some of these people actually work for a living and don’t want to lose their livelihood,” said Duane Whitmer, former Libertarian Candidate for Governor, to a Department of Health Official Friday evening at the local business. “We do have compassion,” the Erie County DOH Official responded. “You need to go have compassion out in the parking lot. This is private property,” said Nick Orticelli, a patron of the gym and one of the main individuals engaging in dialogue. Furthermore, he demanded a warrant.
Next, Orticelli fixated his attention on one accompanying member of the Sheriff’s Department, stating, “Go get a warrant. This is private property and these people aren’t wanted here. So, do your jobs and remove people that are not wanted here.” Responding, the Sheriff’s Dept. employee asked where the gym patrons masks were, declaring, “It’s the law.” A sea of shouts, saying, “It’s not the law,” rang out behind the camera. The mask orders are in fact a mandate and not a law. A law requires passage through New York’s legislative body. Orticelli added, “If it’s the law, then take me to jail.”
Pete Harding, another patron of ‘Athletes Unleashed,’ stepped forward, urging DOH Officials and law enforcement to leave the building. “You don’t get to write the policies. You don’t get to circumvent and subvert the constitution.” Additionally, he requested the right to face the accuser. The DOH Official insisted the same rights didn’t exist beneath code enforcement, stating, “It’s code enforcement, this isn’t the same as that.”
The video ends with DOH Officials and Erie County Sheriff’s Deputies retreating to the parking lot and eventually their vehicles, leaving the scene.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said of the video, “Our health department is out there enforcing the rules.”
Erie County DOH spokesperson Kara Kane said, “We’re gathering information and will have more to say at our press conference on Monday.”