But in a disturbing incident that happened around lunchtime today, an Apex, NC man was seen on video being being led away by police from his business in handcuffs after attempting to reopen his tattoo parlor:
— Josh Shaffer (@joshshaffer08) April 29, 2020
— Josh Shaffer (@joshshaffer08) April 29, 2020
The Raleigh News and Observer has identified the man as Matthew “Jax” Myers, 38. He told the news outlet that he had no options left but to open back up because he needed the income:
Myers, 38, said he knew his act would get him charged, but under Cooper’s order, he is losing so much money that he fears he will lose his new house and fail to feed his three children as soon as June.
He said neither he nor any other small business owners he knows have received any small business loans or federal Paycheck Protection Program money, and he only got approval for insufficient unemployment payment after 13 attempts to sign up.
Apex Tattoo Factory sits at the back of a small strip center on N.C. 55. Nearby, Apex Wings and a Hempko hemp/CBD store were open, allowable under Cooper’s order.
His wife Amber says her husband had no choice but to try to reopen:
Amber Myers said her husband tried to get a small business loan and unemployment assistance, but he was not able to so he went ahead and opened his shop.
“He has spent years building up this business and for it to be taken away after being shut down for so long would be horrible,” Amber Meyers said.
Republican state Senator Jim Perry questioned the arrest, especially given Myers’ alleged financial circumstances:
— Senator Jim Perry (@JamesPerryNC) April 29, 2020
Related to this, Gaston County leaders decided Tuesday that they would no longer be complying with the governor’s stay at home order – effective today at 5pm. While they sort of walked it back, the initial decision led to state leaders being asked at today’s Wuhan coronavirus press briefing what actions would be taken for businesses who tried to reopen. They were dodgy:
Dr. Cohen is asked again if the state will take any action against businesses in Gaston County if they ignore the statewide order.
— Tim Boyum (@TimBoyumTV) April 29, 2020
But the Gaston PD later confirmed that arrests would indeed happen in the event the governor’s stay at home executive order was not followed:
NEW: The Gaston County Police Department will enforce Governor Roy Cooper's stay at home order.
A spokesperson for Gaston County tells me, "the county will not be putting our officers in conflict with the law – which includes Gov. Cooper’s executive order." @wsoctv
— Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) April 29, 2020
As all of this is taking place, local media outlets are expressing frustration at the continued lack of transparency on the data from state Democratic leaders:
This has been the problem w/ virtual press conferences for the past month+. Most of the time, reporters don't get called on for questions and when you do, you only get to ask one – no follow-up… Really hard to have accountability in that setting #ncpol https://t.co/FvaHE3WYpB
— Nick Ochsner (@NickOchsnerWBTV) April 29, 2020
Questions about why the state is using different models than the feds on making reopen decisions have also not been answered. The models the state is using show our peak being in early June, while the federal model showed the peak as last week.
It’s gotten to the point here that even some former Democratic state legislators are asking questions of Democratic state leaders including Gov. Roy Cooper about the data they’re using to justify keeping the state’s order in place.
Ordering sacrifice without providing adequate information about why, will result in more people refusing to comply with the orders.
Transparency in the data isn't just some esoteric whining from media.
It's required for the consent of the governed.#NCpol #NCGA #NCgov
— Pete Kaliner (@PeteKaliner) April 29, 2020
Brent Woodcox, staff attorney for NC Senate Republicans, pointed out that arresting a guy and throwing him in jail for trying to reopen was not exactly a good look for the governor on keeping the stay at home order in place:
— Brent Woodcox (@BrentWoodcox) April 29, 2020
But on the heels of Jax Meyers’s arrest, other small business owners in North Carolina are also planning on defying the governor:
I met a hairstylist in N.C. today. She is reopening her shop tomorrow. But Governor Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order doesn’t end until May 8th. She could lose her license and be cited. What do you think about the decision she is making? Leave a comment. @NC_Governor pic.twitter.com/qkDLCFoyGG
— Tim Pulliam (@TimABC11) April 29, 2020
Last week, Gov. Cooper announced a three-phase plan for reopening which didn’t really sound like a reopen plan at all. In fact, the plan basically puts restaurants, bars, and other small businesses in very tough positions at least through the beginning of June if not longer.
He extended the state’s stay at home order through May 8th, and said phase one would only begin assuming North Carolina continues to flatten the curve. But with the standards on reopening continuing to, ahem, evolve, expect the Reopen movement to grow and for more protesters and small business owners to be arrested.