A Winslow store owner and city officials disagree as to whether his business is allowed to remain open under Arizona’s stay-at-home order.
A Winslow man was arrested this weekend for allegedly violating the state’s stay-at-home order by keeping his store, which the city considered a non-essential business, open.
Police said two days prior to the arrest, Mayor Tom McCauley received complaints that the Authentic Indian Arts Store was still operating. He visited the store that day, determined it was in violation of the state’s order, and notified police.
Officers also visited the store that day and reportedly found the store to mostly be selling jewelry. But according to police, the owner, 71-year-old Daniel Mazon, said he was in compliance because he had also sold a few rolls of paper towels, a bag of dog food, and candy bars and would soon be selling hay.
The officers disagreed and issued Mazon a warning. When they followed up on Saturday, they found the store to still be open. Police also said Mazon refused to show his identification, claiming the coronavirus was a “hoax” and that his constitutional rights were being violated by being ordered to shut down.
Officers arrested Mazon and detained him in a patrol car while they issued him a citation requiring him to appear in court. The charge of operating a business in violation of an emergency decree is a class 1 misdemeanor, which can carry a fine of up to $2,500 and/or result in a sentence of up to six months in jail.
Mazon’s son Joshua told The Arizona Daily Independent that he believed his father had gone through the necessary procedures to become an essential business by starting to sell items that can be found at grocery stores.
“He did his due diligence and didn’t do anything dishonest,” Joshua said. “He was adhering to social distancing policies. This is all very frustrating and unnecessary.”
According to police, Chief Dan Brown sent the case to the Navajo County Attorney’s Office to review to ensure that citing Mazon is constitutional. “Police officers have suddenly been tasked with enforcing laws that have not been enforced in modern times,” Brown said in a press release. “However, as law enforcement officers, we must ensure we hold up our Constitutional Oath of Office while enforcing any law.”
Winslow Police noted no other business owners in the city have been cited for violating the order as they have all been found to be in compliance.
Navajo County has seen 410 of Arizona’s total 4,234 coronavirus cases. Eleven people in the county have died from the virus.
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