After a photo of a Navy Master Chief in full uniform entering the closed ocean in Emerald Isle, North Carolina went viral, the town announced that it will reopen its beaches.
Photos made the rounds of the serviceman standing in the ocean facing the shore with a sign in front of him reading “Land of the Free.”
Full dressed #Navy Master Chief standing in the water today on Emerald Isle NC after the beach & water were closed. LEO let him go and approx 3 hours later the town of Emerald Isle opened back up the beach & water to the public!#AmericanHero #salute4servinghumanity#MAGA pic.twitter.com/3fIaOjNgGF
— John B Wells 11:11 (@JohnBWellsCTM) April 17, 2020
Another photo featured a police officer watching the peaceful protest, and refusing to arrest the serviceman.
The same day, the town announced that it would be reopening beaches.
“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 – Saturday,” a Carteret News-Times report said. “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.”
The Navy serviceman was not the only person to protest the town’s orders.
“The prohibition had particularly angered surfers in Emerald Isle, who Tuesday night started a petition calling on all Bogue Banks mayors to lift the ban, arguing they needed the recreation and surfers were different than swimmers in that they are far less likely to need the attention of emergency first responders,” according to the report.
The beach will reportedly reopen Saturday, and lifeguards will resume their usual shifts.