About 200 people, mostly small business owners, railed against Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio during a Staten Island rally calling for an end to the COVID-19 shutdown and a return to work.
“Stand up to them! Do not lay down for them! Who is going to stand with me, who is going to swing their doors open on Monday and say, ‘I’m going in? You want me? Come and get me. I’m feeding my men, I’m feeding my family. I’m paying my bills and I’m not gonna let you stop me,’” Staten Island business owner and veteran activist Steve Margarella yelled to a cheering crowd.
De Blasio, Margarella told the crowd, “has had his boots on our throats” for the past four years. He referred to Cuomo as “Il Duce,” which was Mussolini’s nickname.
Margarella, owner of paving company Margarella Asphalt and concrete, organized the rally.
“It’s more about civil rights — respecting our Constitution and maintaining personal safety in the meantime,” Margarella told The Post. “COVID is very serious. Everyone should respect the rights and safety of others. That has nothing to do with me going back to work. That could all be done safely.”
Margarella said he doesn’t know if his 43-year-long business will be able to re-open when Cuomo finally gives the OK.
The parking lot of Showplace Entertainment Center in Staten Island filled up with cars and motorcycles, many bearing American flags while tunes from Motley Crue and Billy Idol blared over the loudspeaker before the noon kick-off.
“We want it all opened up so we can work,” said a sign company owner who didn’t want to give his name. “80,000 died so far. If we put down another 80,000 in the six months it would take to create a vaccine, at least we would have our country. [The 80,000 people] will go down as American heroes.”
There was plenty of anger at the Staten Island event, but the rally bore no resemblance to Thursday’s wild pro-Trump, anti-COVID protest on Commack, L.I. Thursday where demonstrators chased down and verbally threatened Long Island 12 reporter Kevin Vesey.
Margarella said Facebook took down his posts promoting the rally — which only made him angrier.
“It’s a real problem,” Margarella said. “I understand they’re a private entity, they can do this legally. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but my wanting to challenge Democratic authority violates their community standards. All I want to do is speak truth to power.”
Leticia Remauro, owner of The Von Agency, an SI-based public relations agency, came to the rally because she has no work now that her clients have shut down. Remauro and her family all got COVID and recovered.
“It’s not about money,” Remauro said. “It’s about freedom, independence, the First Amendment. Caring about your neighbor means making sure they eat. People aren’t eating. Business owners provide a service, they create jobs.”