A struggling Brooklyn, N.Y. pottery shop employee was confronted by authorities over the weekend when they visited the business over supposed violations of government-mandated coronavirus restriction measures while local leaders have mostly ignored large crowds gathering at the same time to celebrate Joe Biden’s win over President Trump in a contentious presidential contest.
Ilana Cagan runs Pottery and Glass Land in Midwood, where customers can paint their own glass, pottery, canvas and wood projects in a studio setting. She told Fox News she and another employee were in the shop Saturday night preparing orders to ship to customers but were not open.
As they were working, several deputies with the New York City Sheriff’s Office told her they were informed that she had been previously open for classes, which Cagan denies.
“They looked like I was selling drugs in my basement. That’s how many of them there were,” Cagan said.
A video of the incident that has since gone viral shows her speaking to a deputy.
“I have five children. I’m a single mother,” she says. “I have zero income coming in right now. And everybody else is open and I’m not allowed to be open.
“I have a mortgage to pay, rent to pay for the store,” she told Fox News. “I have all the regular house bills and I can’t pay any of them.”
The shop was not citied, Cagan said.
The incident occurred as crowds gathered across the city in close proximity to celebrate Biden’s victory over Trump. Local leaders have pushed for tough measures to prevent a second wave of infections while remaining mostly largely silent about street demonstrations and celebrations that proliferated over the summer. However, residents who participated in those events have said that there was generally consistent adherence to mask-wearing.
“It’s hypercritical to the zip codes that are being targeted,” Cagan said of the Jewish community, which has protested such restrictions.
In a tweet, Donald Trump Jr., called the pottery shop incident “Truly disgusting!!!”
In an effort to track and combat the spread of the coronavirus, parts of New York City are broken down into zones — red, orange and yellow — which determines the severity of the COVID-19 infections. The “red zone” is the cluster, while “orange zones” are the immediate areas surrounding the clusters and “yellow zones” are areas deemed “precautionary.”
Cagan’s pottery shop is located in a “red zone,” which mandates all schools and non-essential businesses remain closed.
“I think I was able to open for two weeks out of the nine months [since lockdown measures began],” she said. “At this point, everywhere else is open and the numbers are higher around us.”
Several businesses on her block have already closed their doors permanently, she said. Cagan said she doesn’t anticipate her area getting out of the “red zone” anytime soon.
Brooklyn Councilman Chaim Deutsch noted the street celebrations and the lack of enforcement by authorities on such gatherings while seemingly coming down hard on small businesses.
“Last night, as thousands of New Yorkers partied in the streets, sheriffs entered this pottery shop, owned by a single mom of five,” he tweeted.
His office did not immediately respond to a Fox News request for comment. On Monday, Deutsch tweeted a map of New York City asking: “can you identify where the red zone is?”
Mayor Bill de Blasio brushed off concerns that the celebrations seen over the weekend could contribute to an increase in coronavirus cases.
“This is really what we’re seeing decisively. Those outdoor gatherings, always something to keep an eye on. But if people keep a mask on and they’re outdoors, we haven’t seen too much ill come of that,” De Blasio said during a news briefing. “Increasingly the concern is, more and more people are indoors, fewer and fewer … wearing a mask. That’s overwhelming where our concern is.”
The city seems to be targeting the Jewish neighborhoods more aggressively than other areas, Cagan said. Orthodox Jewish protesters rallied against coronavirus restrictions last month, claiming de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo were using them as scapegoats for an increase in cases.
“I do think that we are being targeted,” Cagan said, adding that she doesn’t know how much longer she can stay closed. “I do need alot of help right now in order to survive.”