Emerald Isle Beach Opens After Protester in Navy Uniform Stands in the Ocean

By Faye Higbee

On Thursday, a retired Navy Master Chief stood in the ocean for about 10 minutes before being approached by police. He was in protest of the Emerald Isle beach closure. In front of him was a sign that read “Land of the Free.” A few hours later, authorities announced that the beach would open up on Saturday, complete with lifeguards. (Business Insider)

Emerald Isle police approached the retired Master Chief and asked him to remove himself from the area around 10 minutes after his appearance in the water. He refused. They did not do anything.

Eventually the retired sailor left on his own with no further incident. But the Emerald Isle city council took note of his situation, and the beaches were re-opened on Saturday, April 18, complete with lifeguards.

Sun News and Review reported,

Town Manager Matt Zapp announced around 4:15 p.m. Thursday that the town will lift its ocean access restrictions – which have banned all but those on motorized vehicles from entering the water.”

CarolinaCoastonline.com wrote, “The measure was lifted by a proclamation by Mayor Eddie Barber, who put it in place along with mayors of the other Bogue Banks towns April 2.”

Surfers in Emerald Isle, NC were the first to be angered. The surfers started a petition on April 14, asking all Bogue Banks Mayors to lift the ban. However, city officials did not agree to lift the ban until Thursday, when a Navy Master Chief silently protested and ignored the police officers’ demands to exit the beach.

In a press release, Zapp wrote,

“Emerald Isle residents and property owners will be able to access the Atlantic Ocean for normal activities, including swimming, surfing, kiting, kayaking, and fishing. Residents can continue to walk, jog, and sit on the beach strand. All beachgoers must adhere to the current social distancing guidelines.”

The Navy Master Chief’s action came with a pricetag- his uniform is made of wool, and costs around $300. Retired Naval personnel can wear it to official, formal events. Standing for freedom should count as an “official” duty.

Though not connected to the retired Navy Master Chief, Florida also re-opened its beaches on a limited basis. USA Today reported,

“Crowds celebrated beaches reopening on a limited basis amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 17, 2020, on Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Beaches are open from 6 to 11 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. local time for activities such as walking, running, surfing, swimming and fishing; no sunbathing or sitting is allowed.”

Folks didn’t care about the restrictions, they came out to experience at least some modicum of freedom. Surfers took to the waves, people walked their dogs, just to get out in the sunshine instead of being cooped up in their homes.

Every Governor that has clamped down so hard on their citizens needs to pay attention to the action of the Navy Master Chief who stood quietly in the water.

America is the Land of the Free Because of the Brave

Featured photo: Taken by Mike Conner, a resident and surfer in Emerald Isle, North Carolina

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