Based on a post from Joel Tudor's Instagram account, it looks like an unnamed official from the California State Parks attempted to shut down a surf project for Veterans…on Veterans Day.
In Tudor's post, he wrote that the State Parks officer told the group that "they would need a permit to be at Cardiff due to a public post on Facebook--the post was made so the public could volunteer time and take a Vet for a slide! Mind you that every Vet here had already paid the $15 parking fee."
Tudor went on to write that, "At one point, as the wanna-be cop was hassling the organizer, a woman with no leg crawled through the dirt behind this guy to the waves. Talk about zero sympathy or respect for his country and its Vets."
The image from Tudor's Instagram account depicts what appears to be a California State Parks officer speaking with an organizer. Nearby, a prosthetic limb stands alone. The image has since made its rounds throughout the Internet, with Kelly Slater reposting it. "Amazing what people will pull when they have a little authority and a bad attitude," Slater wrote. "I hope the Wounded Warriors still got a few waves."
Todd Gould, a veteran and an organizer of the event, is the man pictured talking to the State Parks officer in the photo. "We've done a Veterans Surf Day in Cardiff for the past few years. He was just a dude trying to do his job, but it was still pretty ridiculous. He said we needed a permit, but we're just a nonprofit and it wasn't anything official. He said that it looked like an advertisement and was worried about liability. He asked us to take the tent down so I did."
When asked if the officer's hassling put a damper on the day, Gould said he was worried that it could throw off the positive vibes, but they still managed to have a great time. "We were there to honor and surf, not break the rules and get hassled. It wasn't a surf clinic where we were teaching surfing. We were simply surfing with and supporting our follow Veterans."
Taben Mellor, who was another volunteer at the event and is himself a veteran, further described what occurred. "Earlier in the day, we all did a beach cleanup nearby and hauled away a whole bunch of trash. Then, this officer came up and told us that we had to pack up all of our gear. Our gear, by the way, consisted of a barbecue and a four post tent for the sun. He was hassling us for a while and Joel Tudor talked to him a bit. You could tell he was pretty frustrated. After a little back and forth, this officer's supervisor showed up and let us do our thing. Eventually, the officer in the photo left and we had a great time."
Late this afternoon, we received a statement from the State Parks department describing their position on the issue. “For any planned, organized and coordinated event, State Parks requires a Special Event Permit, both for the safety of all park/beach visitors, and to prepare with proper staffing.
We very much regret any miscommunication in this case...however, the issue was very quickly resolved between State Parks and event organizers, and the event was allowed to continue without further incident. We see a lot of value in events like this, because they bring the community together, and we look forward to working with the organizers next year.”