Crista Curtis negotiates protest route with police.
“I’ve been crucified,” said Cardiff by the Sea resident Crista Curtis, as she surveyed what she helped to create on April 19.
“I’ve had death threats. I’ve had weird men telling me they were going to do horrible things to me,” she added at the event held on a typical sunny spring morning.
Curtis’ prior April 16 posts on Facebook and Nextdoor brought out hundreds to join her in voicing their opposition to the closure of Encinitas’ beaches, sidewalks, and the Coastal Rail Trail. Another hundred or so stood watching from the hillside above Coast Highway at Swami’s beach. Cars decorated with American flags and surfboards passed by giving honks of approval.
Not all passersby offered their support however. Several passing cyclists yelled at the protesters, “Get out of my way,” or “go home,” as the crowd gathered off the sidewalk into the bike lane. (The sidewalk along Coast Highway was officially closed to pedestrians a week before.)
“What gives them [bicyclists] the right to be outside and not us,” said one protester. The exchange of words pointed out the struggle between the city’s bicyclist lobby, and those that feel the city has supported road diets to create bike lanes.
It was mostly a younger under-40 crowd, many with families. Masks were passed out and protesters were encouraged to set the example by wearing them.
Covered by TV news helicopters, Curtis has now had to delete all posts referring to the event, and withdrawn from the same social media that brought out hundreds. She’s been accused of “killing future COIVID 19 patients” on social media.
For the most part, attendees stayed clear of national politics. However the San Diego Union Tribune chose in its Facebook posting the sole Trump 2020 flag prominently in their photo.
Sheriff’s Department officers watched the situation. About one hour into the event, the deputy in charge asked Curtis to not to take the group down Coast Highway.
“These guys are cool. I know them. They’re trying to help,” said Curtis of the deputy’s request. Instead the group decided to head up Santa Fe Drive, three blocks into Cardiff, and end up in front of Mayor Catherine Blakespear's house.
Mayor Blakespear however, in her most recent weekly e-Blast post, stated “I’ve been speaking with the leaders of other coastal cities about what we could do to influence the county to get the ocean back open.” She added that she believes city residents will practice distancing, and hold no large gatherings on the beach if they were opened.
After I posted some photos on Facebook, I too was vilified by many of my Facebook friends. 117 comments naming me “selfish,” “immature,” or “stupid.”
Drone footage of march by Tyler Whitehead
One protestor’s sign read, “Surfers have been practicing social distancing forever.” He told me, “Especially from kooks, groms, and hodads.”