CARDIFF, Calif. – At an event to help injured veterans surf at Cardiff State Beach Tuesday, a state park ranger told the organizers they needed a permit to be on the beach.
The Veterans Day event was sponsored by Operation Amped, an organization that teaches disabled veterans to surf.
Joel Tudor, a volunteer, said surfing provides therapy for the injured veterans.
“Surfing has been a really neat form for these people to have a sense of relaxation, to remove the traumatic stress,” Tudor said.
Tudor uploaded a picture to Instagram that upset many people on social media. In the photo, a park ranger holding a prosthetic leg on the sand is shown hassling volunteers on the beach.
The 25 volunteers and the veterans were told to pack up their American flags and leave the beach, Tudor said.
Though the event was not shut down, the organization members said it was a disgraceful and unpatriotic way to treat those that have given so much.
“It’s the one day that we give them, that the country gives them, nationwide to celebrate and feel good about their time served and that guy couldn’t take five minutes of his time to turn the other cheek,” Tudor said.
State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is on the committee that oversees the state parks.
“I’m horrified…and I think most of the people who saw the pictures are,” she said. “We have a responsibility with the State of California and all of our agencies that work with the public to treat people with respect.”
“I understand that you’re doing your job and doing different things, but there’s also called having a heart,” Tudor said. “They all had purple hearts. There’s a big difference. We all have hearts–purple hearts are a little more important.”
California State Park officials responded to the incident with a statement:
“For any planned, organized and coordinated events, State Parks requires a Special Event Permit both for the safety of all park/beach visitors, and to prepare with proper staffing. We 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.”