New York State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-SI) is calling for an investigation into the arrest of Staten Island activist John Tabacco, who was charged with criminal trespass after refusing to wear a face mask during a ballot-counting session at the Board of Elections’ borough headquarters.
“When a poll watcher that is lawfully present is removed and arrested for having broken no laws, our democracy is under attack,” Lanza said Saturday.
Tabacco — who is on the November ballot as an independent candidate for comptroller — said he complied with a health screening as he arrived Thursday to serve as a ballot-counting monitor for Vito Fossella, the former congressman running for borough president.
“Question 7 said, are you vaccinated? I said yes,” Tabacco told The Post. “The form said that if you are vaccinated, wearing a mask is optional.”
But when the maskless Tabacco attempted to enter the counting room, he says he was “physically bullied” by elections officials who pushed him out the door — and then called the cops.
“This is hiding-in-plain sight political corruption,” Tabacco said. “We don’t like you? We’re having you arrested.”
The candidate was handcuffed and left to stew in a holding cell at the 120th Precinct for two hours — a “completely unacceptable and outrageous” result, Lanza said.
“We are a country of laws, and you don’t arrest people unless they are committing a crime,” Lanza, a former prosecutor, said.
“For months we watched as our city was nearly burned to the ground by looters and rioters, and those people weren’t arrested,” Lanza said. “But a law-abiding citizen was arrested for purely political motivations.”
Board of Elections spokeswoman Valerie Diaz told the Staten Island Advance that Tabacco became disruptive over the mask policy.
“The safety of the staff and public is of the utmost importance for the board,” Diaz said. “As such, board policy is that all must wear a mask.”
Tabacco — known for rallying locals to defend the Staten Island bar that declared itself an “autonomous zone” to open during the pandemic — is scheduled for a court hearing on Aug. 4.