After being ordered to close by Toronto Public Health Tuesday, Adam Skelly, owner of Adamson BBQ in Etobicoke , opened up for dine-in service Wednesday despite current lock down rules. The three day-long dispute between police and the restauranteur concluded with a skirmish Thursday afternoon, where Skelly was arrested by Toronto police officers after a crowd of supporters broke into a cordoned off section of the building by breaking through drywall in an effort to reopen the restaurant. During the process, locks put in place by the city were destroyed.
Skelly faces one count of attempting to obstruct police, one count of mischief , one count of failing to comply with a continued order under the Reopening Ontario Act (that is, for hosting an illegal gathering on both Tuesday and Wednesday and for offering dine-in service on both days as well), and one count of failing to leave when directed under the Trespass to Property Act. A supporter, Michael Belito, also faces several charges.
The BBQ had posted a story on their Instagram account earlier that day, saying “[we] need locksmith & other hands at Etobicoke asap.” By evening, CP24 reported that Toronto police were assaulted by supporters as they attempted to close the restaurant in accordance with public health orders.
A GoFundMe page for Skelly, condemning the unfairness that a small business like Adamson BBQ remain shuttered while big-box stores are open, has raised $250,000 for Skelly's legal defense as of Saturday night, far above the initial $10,000 target. The hashtag #IStandWithAdam has also begun trending on Twitter.
Amid rising support for the 33-year old restauranteur, Premier Ford chimed in, offering his opinion. "I'm not going to...start pounding a small business owner when the guy's holding on by his fingernails [because] I differentiate between someone at home being reckless and having 100 people over and partying or renting a public storage place that's reckless," said Ford. "[Although] I don't condone that he opened up....you know, I feel terrible. My heart breaks for these guys and it's not fair. But please, in saying all that, you've got to follow the protocols and the guidelines. That's what it comes down to."
If you're interested in supporting Skelly, you can find his GoFundMe page here.