Stab Magazine | Shots Fired: Costa Rican Pro Arrested For Surfing, Kelly Slater Inadvertently Comes To His Defense

Shots Fired: Costa Rican Pro Arrested For Surfing, Kelly Slater Inadvertently Comes To His Defense

Also, a cop fired his weapon (twice) to thwart an escaping surfer. It’s all happening!

Words by stab

Earlier today, we reported on the Costa Rican law enforcement officer who flashed his firearm at disobedient surfers, which led to three arrests. 

While those surfers—who were taken into custody two days ago—remain unknown, we’ve had a development from this morning. 

Two, actually. 

The first involves the arrest of Costa Rican professional surfer Noe Mar McGonagle, who back in 2015 was the ISA World Champion. 

This morning, Noe broke Costa Rican law by surfing at the same beach where the other surfers were arrested two days prior. He was promptly arrested by a large group of officers in Playa Hermosa and carted off in a police pick-up. 

According to Costa Rica’s pandemic-specific laws, Noe could face up to 1-3 years in jail for this offense. However, it’s been reported that Noe was released within 45 minutes without as much as a fine. 

Inadvertently coming to Noe’s defense is the greatest surfer of all time, Kelly Slater, who posted the below comment on a post totally unrelated but still relevant to the Costa Rica situation:

Screen Shot 2020 03 28 at 5.23.29 PM

Kelly makes some great points about how arresting officers grabbing surfers could exacerbate the spread of covid-19 (certainly more so than the physical act of surfing). And, also to his point, it makes no sense for the ocean to be closed before retail spaces. But on the point that people should be allowed to surf throughout this crisis (especially if they keep their distance), Kelly is wrong.

And to be clear, I felt the same way as Kelly until it was explained to me by a very smart friend how surfing contributes directly to the spread of the disease. Here’s the rational explanation you’re looking for, Slates: 

If people are allowed to surf (even at a safe distance from one another), it will lead to a mass migration of surfers from all surrounding areas to the beach. This is especially true since everyone is out of work and wants something to keep their minds and bodies occupied. Also, we’re coming into a holiday week/end around the world, which will only add to the chaos.  

Now, even if we were to assume that not a single person around the world could or would contract covid-19 while in the water (which is a very weak assumption), what about all the hotels, gas stations, coffee shops, public bathrooms, and other disease-incubating amenities that will inevitably be flooded by these migratory surfers?

If you could somehow enforce a law that only people who lived within walking distance of the beach were allowed to surf, it would probably be fine for them to do so. But of course that’s not logistically feasible, so closing all beaches (and their adjacent waves) is the only logical step our government can take if they’re serious about stopping the spread. 

Also, on the point of why arresting officers have to “physically grab” non-abiders, I’ll bring it back to Playa Hermosa once more. Two days before Noe Mar was arrested, this happened:

If you couldn’t wrap your head around that clip, what you’re seeing is an unnamed surfer being questioned and presumably arrested by Playa Hermosa police for breaking Costa Rica’s no-beachgoing law. 

Then he darts. 

Then, gunfire. 

It’s been reported by local sources that the shots were not directed at the surfer but rather used to petrify him mid-run, which clearly did not work.

This video both proves and disproves Kelly’s point on the police’s “lame power trip”. On one hand, their decision not to physically detain the man in question gave him the opportunity to dart. On the other hand, their unleashing of bullets is a complete abuse of power and also great Instagram fodder.  

However you feel about the situation, it’s worth stating that the runner, who may or may not be Salmon Boy (AKA Simon Rex) filming for his part in the upcoming Snapt4, was eventually caught and detained. He was reportedly released after paying a $200 fine and will be forced to make an apology rap for the emotional damage he’s caused. 


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