Lone California paddle-boarder seen cornered by police, taken away in cuffs sparks fierce debate

The arrest of a man paddleboarding in California sparked a heated debate about the statewide stay-at-home order issued due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The unidentified man was arrested Thursday after he was found paddleboarding near the Malibu Pier in violation of beach closure orders, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Los Angeles County lifeguards and sheriff’s deputies in boats tried in vain to get the man to come ashore but he continued to paddle for another 30 minutes after being ordered to exit the water, as video apparently taken at the scene showed.

Once he made it back to shore, the man was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor on suspicion of disobeying a lifeguard as well as violating the state stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

He was released on a promise to appear in court after being booked at Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, according to officials. If he is convicted of violating the state order, he could face a fine of $1,000 or six months in jail, or both.

A surfer who violated the order last weekend in Manhattan Beach was reportedly fined $1,000 as California beaches, parks and hiking trails have been ordered closed to protect against the spread of the virus.

But critics of the mandate have pointed to what they see as an illogical enforcement of the order, considering the county and state’s large homeless population.

“Sorry guys, this is just plain stupid,” one Facebook user wrote. “In Hawaii right now the beaches are closed, but surfers can still surf and you can swim in the ocean as long as you stay away from other people. Be like Hawaii Not Cuba.”

“So let me get this straight. This dude is “social distancing”—so you bring more people close to him and then arrest him?” another asked.

“Thank god you utilized thousands and thousands of dollars of resources for a dude paddle boarding, minding his own business, well away from others,” one sarcastic Facebook comment read.

Twitter users also chimed in, with a few who voiced support for the move.

But plenty of other Twitter users sounded the alarm over what they saw as government overreach and double standards.

 

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Frieda Powers

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