By George Miller
What could be more American than a beach party and frolicking in the surf on the 4th of July- America’s Independence Day- the most patriotic of all our holidays? Well, it was illegal this year. Both Ventura County and Oxnard (and many other jurisdictions) completely closed the beaches for the three day weekend. With the recent increase in COVID-19 reported cases, officials exercised what is possibly an overabundance of caution in closing these. Because of lack of parking, restrooms, amenities and publicity, Oxnard ocean beaches are NEVER crowded and therefore would not be a hazard. The only hazards are when people unwisely hold densely packed gatherings not respecting social distancing.
But, from the sidewalk near the beautiful oceanfront Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort this morning, we could see people with umbrellas and chairs on the beaches which were closed by Oxnard and a nearby Ventura County unincorporated area just south.
A closer look (for journalistic purposes only, of course), revealed dozens of people, spread out on the beach, or walking, playing with dogs, swimming and surfing. We saw no hazardous situations during our observations. People were pretty much practicing social distancing. A few even wore masks, even while running , which I do not recommend.
County vehicles were visible (below), with employees or officers chasing people off Hollywood Beach, but no law enforcement was visible on the Oxnard side when we first arrived..
Overcome with curiosity, as a conversation opener, I wished beach-goers a happy 4th and asked a couple of dozen people “what do you think about the beach closure?” A summary of the most common responses:
- The ocean isn’t closed (surfers, swimmers)
- OK if you keep moving
- It IS open
- It’s closed?
Mike Nichols of Simi Valley had what looked like his extended family lounging on the beach, with a tent, umbrella, chairs, blankets and coolers. I asked him if he was taking a stand on the beach closure. He said YES, emphatically, that it was safer here than in Simi and that it was OK to photograph his party and write about it.
We saw a white unmarked pickup truck that had entered the beach by 5th Street and parked conspicuously facing the ocean just past the rock wall north of 5th.
On the way back, we saw an Oxnard Police Dept. vehicle slowly moving north along the beach with red and blue lights visible through the fog. They simply passed by walkers, swimmers and surfers, but stopped by people lounging on the beach and told them to move along, according to one group we queried. So, Oxnard had de facto reverted to the previous “soft closure” when people were allowed to walk, swim, surf.
Before we left, we noticed that the Nichols party had vanished from its prime spot on the rise just above the high tide line, a probable casualty of enforcement.
The closure announcement itself was enough to scare away crowds from the teeming millions of LA, which meant no dense packed crowds for sure. People who showed up anyway were’t really hassled, although it was a bit unkind to roust the beach loungers. I think the police realized that there really wasn’t a public safety hazard here and dialed back accordingly. It is comforting to know of their prudence here and also their gentle but firm touch on the BLM protests.
Meanwhile, a large BLM protest was planned in Ventura for today.
A dispatch sent to Citizens Journal by the notorious, in-your-face civil rights advocate Bruce Boyer, who attempted to run for Sheriff but was removed from the ballot by County Registrar Mark Lunn (case is in appeal)…..
He was protesting at Hollywood Beach on Saturday and Sunday and told me that he was detained temporarily by VC Sheriff Deputy Sgt. Harris, threatened with arrest, then allowed to go walking. Boyer said that earlier, VCSO was telling surfers to get out of the water, but that they ignored those instructions. He said that people on the beach were told that they must keep moving.
Boyer sent us these words:
The advance party is ashore on Hollywood Beach! Opposing forces have been encountered and repulsed. They are calling for reinforcements!There are many others on the beach as well. The VCS deps are not interested in them. Many attractive beach goers…
The opposition reinforced by Sgt. Harris detained me for investigation. Stated that I could not sit on the beach that we had to “keep moving” I was “detained” while Sgt. Harris ” investigated,” which consisted of his asking me if I was going to take my gear and move along? I declined to answer. He then stated that if I left anything that he would consider it abandoned. I informed him that anything of mine is not abandoned and that abandonment requires intent. As such I am not abandoning anything or littering. He then continued to question me, to which I declined to answer. He then informed me that my refusal to move along would result in the DA issuing me a warrant for PC 148 interfering with a Peace Officer. I am of course still sitting in my chair….. They are now observing from a distance. … I have observed a hundred plus people on the beach within the last hour. None have been questioned or detained…
Hollywood Beach! They are maneuvering to try to bring fire trucks onto the beach. They think I will not move so they can PC 148 me….
Hollywood Beach update: 1 PM July 4th. All opposition has been routed! The deputies have left the beach! I can see a mile up and down the beach and the entrance . After an hr, one drove down the beach and waved to the people on the beach sitting… standing..! Victory without loss! The beach is now occupied by the People who are doing “beach stuff”.
(We’ll post his pics, if we get them).
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.
George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.
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