Police shut down Lincoln Park gym, give owner and members citations

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Posted at 10:38 AM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 17:42:21-04

(WXYZ) — Police shut down a gym in Lincoln Park and cited its owners and members for violating Governor Gretchen Whitmer's executive order.

On Wednesday afternoon, several officers walked inside RTB Gym and told the owner and members they would be receiving citations.

Owner Tino Ulicne said he knew he was defying the governor's orders when he re-opened in late June.

"I don't understand," Ulicne said. "Like, if we take all the right precautions, why can't we open?"

Gyms in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are allowed to open under Phase 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan, but the rest of the state remains in Phase 4.

Michigan, along with several other states, has seen a recent spike in new COVID-19 cases.

Ulicne said defiance was a financial necessity, as this is his only means of income.

"It's a do or die situation," he said.

Lincoln Park police said they learned the gym was back open on Monday when someone spoke up during a city council meeting.

Ulicne said he thought he may get a slap on the wrist or maybe a ticket, but didn't expect this.

Police issued 21 violations to gym staff and members like Scott Taylor.

"I happened to finish my workout and they got me on the way out," Taylor said.

He, like Ulicne, is planning to fight this in court.

Attorney Nick Somberg, representing several of those ticketed pro bono, says none of the members should have received tickets for simply being inside the gym. He says they plan to fight the violations in the court.

“The Governor's executive order 2020-21 order specifically exempts and encourages people to leave their home to engage in recreational activity. People go to the gym to get healthy. If this was a strip club then there would've been no issue,” he told Action News.

"We support our gym, we were practicing all the proper protocols, proper distancing," Taylor said. "They're doing what they have to do, so it was one of those things where I wasn't mad at the police, I was just mad at the situation and this order in general."

Last month, a federal appeals court stopped a lower court's rule that would have allowed gyms to re-open statewide.

Lincoln Park Police say they've issued other violations related to the governor's orders, but this is the first time they've issued one for a gym.

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