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Six arrested at Queens Center Cheesecake Factory after refusing to comply with city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate: NYPD

A group of people against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate rallied in and outside the Cheesecake Factory at the Queens Center Mall on Dec. 15. (Screenshot via newyorkfreedomrally2/Instagram)

Police made six arrests after a group of unvaccinated people refused to leave the Cheesecake Factory at Queens Center Mall despite the vaccine mandate requiring proof of immunization on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

At approximately 7 p.m., NYPD officers responded to a complaint about criminal trespassing inside the Cheesecake Factory at Queens Center Mall, located at 90-15 Queens Blvd.

According to NYPD, the group entered the restaurant refusing to show proof of vaccination or leave the premises when asked. 

Once officers arrived, they gave lawful orders to the group to leave — which they again refused, according to authorities. After refusing to comply, six people were placed under arrest without any further incident. Two of the individuals were from Queens and the others were from Yonkers, Brooklyn and the Bronx, police said.

The group of about 30 people are shown in a video posted to Twitter arguing with police before finally being arrested. An officer said, “If you refuse to leave when we tell you to leave, we will be arresting you for criminal trespassing.”

One anti-vaxxer said, “It’s not criminal trespassing. We’re here to access the building during normal business hours. We’re not committing a crime. If you falsely arrest us, you will be held liable.”

One woman is heard in the background calling the officers Nazis.

Groups of anti-vaxxers, who go by the name New York Freedom Rally, have been going around the city at establishments like Shake Shack and Applebee’s to perform sit-in protests, refusing to comply with city law. Children also appear in the videos.

The same group of anti-vaxxers came back to Queens Center Mall to eat at Applebee’s and gather outside the Cheesecake Factory the following day on Wednesday, Dec. 15, to again protest the vaccine mandate while brandishing a Trump and American flag behind them. 

According to NYPD, four protestors were arrested on Dec. 15 for criminal trespassing at the Applebee’s at 90-15 Queens Blvd.

 

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New York City imposed the vaccine mandate for all restaurants and venues in September, requiring all patrons to show proof of at least one dose. If a restaurant does not comply with this order, they face a $1,000 penalty for the first offense.

Alethea Rowe, a senior director of public relations for Cheesecake Factory told QNS that this was “an unfortunate incident.”

“The company is simply complying with the local ordinance concerning COVID-19 vaccine requirements,” Rowe said. “We would like to thank our restaurant managers and staff for remaining focused on providing our guests with delicious, memorable food, and would like to thank local law enforcement for their support during this time.”

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