Many of you have no doubt been following the on-going saga of the Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey. The owners of Atilis, Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, have refused to comply with Governor Murphy’s order to close their business to be in compliance with State coronavirus regulations. Atilis’ argument is simple – why are businesses in New Jersey like Walmart, Home Depot, major grocery chains, liquor stores, etc. deemed “essential” and can remain open, while businesses like Atilis Gym are forced to close? Smith and Trumbetti believe that restricting their ability to open their gym is both unconstitutional and irrational. I completely agree.
There are some interesting backstories in this saga. In 2007, Mr. Smith, then 20 years old, was intoxicated and killed a young man in a DUI car crash. In 2008, Mr. Smith pled guilty to vehicular homicide and spent time in prison. Mr. Trumbetti, while an outspoken advocate against coronavirus lockdowns, has an elderly mother who contracted COVID and is fighting for her life. As a further twist, Mr. Trumbetti’s mother contracted COVID after entering a rehab facility to “recover” from surgery.
My point in sharing their history? Smith and Trumbetti are real people, with real pasts and current problems. Sound familiar? While you might have (hope to God not) never killed anyone while driving impaired, I’ll bet you have things from your past you’d rather not share. Maybe (again, God forbid) you have a family member or friend was has died or gotten seriously ill from COVID. We are all flawed human beings. We bring our past, our hopes, our fears, our love, and our biases to work with us every day.
Mr. Smith and Mr. Trumbetti will not bow down. Numerous court orders, injunctions, fines, and harassment from New Jersey authorities have not dissuaded them. They have this crazy belief, insane really in 2020, that they have the right to run their business in peace. Lest you think or assume otherwise, Smith and Trumbetti have taken beyond reasonable measures to ensure that their gym is as safe and clean as possible – limiting the number of members who can work out at any one time, socially distancing all exercise equipment, requiring that members wear masks when not working out and many other measures, etc. No doubt, Atilis is the safest gym in New Jersey from COVID.
This is what it is coming to my friends. All over the USA, these types of incidents are increasing. Business owners, like Smith and Trumbetti, are being forced into becoming rebels. Notice that neither Smith nor Trumbetti has taken to the streets to throw bricks or gas bombs or fireworks at police officers. They are not looting or rioting. All they want to do is open their gym so people can exercise, an activity that has considerable benefits to personal, and, therefore, public health.
I’ve talked about the necessity for civil disobedience in this fight for our survival. I’ve discussed the total hypocrisy of allowing mega-corporations to conduct business while shutting the doors on small businesses. This is what civil disobedience in 2020 looks like. This is EXACTLY the type of civil disobedience that our Founders desired to protect (indeed to defend) in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Literally as I was about to post this article, I learned that Mr. Smith and Mr. Trumbetti were arrested by New Jersey police. They were charged with contempt and obstruction, basically disorderly conduct. The report is that they have since been released.
Do your homework. Think for yourself. Visit Atilis Gym on Facebook. Google this topic. Watch video clips. If you agree with what Ian and Frank are trying to do, like their Facebook page, send them a note of encouragement, pass on their story. If you live near Bellmawr, join their gym, get involved.
The battle is on, where do you stand?