A small group of protesters Saturday took complaints about COVID-19-related closures to the beach.

Advertised as a "Beach Lives Matter" protest following the announcement Galveston would close its beaches for the Independence Day holiday weekend, the gathering featured some chanting, some yelling, and two people receiving tickets after they ventured out into the Gulf of Mexico, violating the city's closure rules.

"I just feel like they've gone too far with taking away our rights and freedoms over a virus that has a very, very high recovery rate," said Kelly Porter, a Galveston resident who was one of the first people to show up at the protest location and one of the people to ultimately be ticketed. "Our freedoms are slipping away more and more each day."

The protest did not have a central organizer. A Facebook event that advertised an all-day protest at multiple spots on the seawall claimed that as many as 1,100 people were planning to show up.

At 10 a.m., the event's advertised start time, just four people stood protesting at the seawall at 39th Street. Over the next two hours, the protest would grow to about 20 people.

Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough on Wednesday announced Galveston beaches would be completely closed during the Fourth of July weekend and that parking would be prohibited on Seawall Boulevard. The closure is an effort to drastically reduce the number of people visiting Galveston, which can draw tens of thousands on holiday weekends.

The closures appear to have worked. Traffic on Seawall Boulevard was light Saturday. There was no wait at the Galveston-Port Bolivar Ferry, and restaurant parking lots were empty.

Some of the protesters claimed Yarbrough's order violated the Texas Open Beaches Act, a state law that guarantees public access to beaches. City officials say the beach closures were approved by the Texas General Land Office, which enforces the open beaches act — and previously prevented the city from closing beaches or beach access points.

About an hour into the event, a group of protesters crossed the barricade and waded into the water. A group of Galveston Police Department officers arrived and warned the people on the beach that they would be ticketed, possibly arrested, if they did not leave.

The protesters returned to the seawall, but a short while later, Porter and six others returned to the sand.

At least two people received $500 tickets for violating the city's beach order. No one was arrested.

Police officers also urged people who stayed on the seawall to keep moving or to move to a city park farther down the street to avoid violating the city's rule that prohibited people from sitting or gathering on the seawall.

Many of the protesters said they didn't understand the order and said the beach should be considered a safe and healthy place to visit during the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the protesters didn't wear masks. Some said they didn't believe coronavirus precautions recommended by public health officials were necessary.

"It's my right to speak my mind and my right to be on that beach," said Galveston resident Mark McQuade. "I think the mayor is a coward. They're all afraid of this COVID-19 thing. There's no mask that's going to help you do anything. It's government overreach."

McQuade had a balaclava-type face mask wrapped around his neck and head, said he was wearing it to protect against the sun, not the virus. He said he takes his mask off after walking into local stores.

Others lamented the cost the beach closure would have on local businesses.

Yarbrough's order does not explicitly close businesses, but the beach closure unquestionably decreased the number of people visiting island restaurants Saturday.

"I'm here out of the goodness of my heart and for these tourists and what they're losing here," said Angelia Gay, a League City resident. "The business owners, they're hemorrhaging money. I've never seen parking lots so empty on the Fourth of July. People are hemorrhaging money here for an ideology that I'm not even sure we have the science to back up."

Gay agreed that if the beaches were open, Galveston would be "booming." Still even with light crowds, Gay said she planned to go back home for lunch.

"Going into businesses is way riskier than going to the beach," she said. "Don't go to the restaurants unless you're picking up something inside. I'm not an advocate for going in these buildings and spreading COVID. I'm an advocate for being able to go to your beaches."

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

Recommended for you

(32) comments

Cliff Chatlosh

The sign said "IF You're Scared Stay Home". What are you talking about? If there is anyone "scared" I'm sure they are home. I think most are respectful of their neighbors, unlike you people who don't mind endangering first responders and neighbors with your nonsense! Most of us are not SCARED we're just respectful of our neighbors,family, and city leaders! Spread the Chinese Virus it's on you and just says a lot about YOU.

Don Schlessinger


Gary Scoggin


Walter Dannenmaier

God Bless King George! His Majesty's Grace and Favor should be good enough for you! Be respectful of those who are loyal to the King! Don't endanger his Constables and Tax Collectors!

John Lengyel


Walter Dannenmaier

Cliff, it is good to see a citizen who has so completely absorbed the desired messages! Anyone who dares to leave their home is ENDANGERING FIRST RESPONDERS! And did you see those photos? The protesters were clad in beach wear! The poor police wear their black uniforms with body armor and guns in case anyone had a bazooka in their swim trunks! Though I think redcoats would have suited them more for the occasion. They probably should have deployed their MRAP. Clearly rebellion is breaking out on the Island.

Kathleen Nebout

Well said Mr. Chatlosh.

PD Hyatt

What is funny and sad, is that IF the masks really work then let the people who are afraid and or have weakened or no immune system wear the masks. IF the masks really work then they will be protected if they wear the masks and use hand sanitizer all of the time. IF the masks do not work then it doesn't matter who wears them and who doesn't.... Common sense and logic seems to have flown the coop during this MSM driven Wuhan Virus episode....

Terri Abraham

What I find sad is that as many times as it's been written, that you wear a mask to protect the people around you, not to protect youself, there are still so many otherwise intelligent people who fail to grasp that.

Ellen Morrison

Thank you, Terri. It is simply amazing that with all the publicity, you still find people like the above who haven’t gotten the word.

Gary Miller

Terri> Acording to your idea anyone infected should wear a mask. Everyone not infected need not wear a mask because if not infected they can't infect anyone, with out or with a mask.

Terri Abraham

Gary, you're right, but, since people that are infected don't usually know it until after they've been able to spread the infection to many others, getting everybody to wear a mask would stop that spread.

Gary Scoggin

Terri.... give up. MAGAs are not capable of understanding and retaining that simple fact. It destroys their mythical narrative and thus cannot be accepted.

Carlos Ponce

Gary Scoggins mask has written on it, "I saved 1 million lives by wearing this mask!"[wink]

Gary Scoggin

Actually, I just got a new Houston Astros one, now that baseball is coming back.

Carlos Ponce

OK, Gary Scoggin, as long as the mask doesn't steal signs!

jimmy winston

"otherwise intelligent" is being very generous to them.

Wayne D Holt

Please see one of my previous posts on this topic when I cited research that 14 randomized studies of mask use could substantiate ZERO/NADA/NONE of the claims of certitude that masks are what maskers claim they are: effective protection against contracting or spreading the virus.

The studies' conclusion was that, while the anecdotal belief of efficacy in compulsive hand sanitizing and mask use was near universal, when the time came to be able to show that statistically it just wasn't there. That was 14 randomized studies that were summarized by the research.

So...those who wish to wear masks out of their perception it is effective, please do so. Those who feel it is a civic responsibility, by all means exercise your altruistic desire to help your community.

But for the sake of scientific and philosophical rigor, please do not go on and on about how non-mask wearing folks are just plague carriers on two legs. The evidence is not there and it just makes you look like you're clinging to a magic totem to ward off evil.

Bailey Jones

Gary Scoggin

Bailey.... give it up. There is no talking sense or science to the MAGA-gree-ers. The best you can hope for is that others pay attention to what you are saying.

Bailey Jones

Yes, Gary - that's the only reason I post rebuttals - in the hope that a passerby will, at the very least, see that there is more than one side to any argument.

Wayne D Holt

BTW one thing that was cited in the conclusion was that depending on the type of mask worn, there was a quantifiable level of hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) that actually lowered natural immunity as CO2 levels rose from breathing in our expelled air.

The irony was, the more efficient the mask was at being an air-tight barrier to the virus (like N95 masks), the more prevalent the number of cases of hypoxia noted.

Hypoxia can have serious effects on your heart and brain If very severe, it can lead to hypercapnia. As puts it, "This may elevate your carbon dioxide levels in your bloodstream, which can be deadly."

So by all means, follow whatever medical advice you feel is best. Just be aware that if you are getting your guidance from MSM and the chattering classes, you are getting just a part of the picture and the consequences may be anything but supportive of good health.

Bailey Jones

The city treasury thanks you for your service.

Lena Gilley

I agree with the protesters! Let people make their own minds up!

Jim Forsythe

Lena, we had individual choice, and now we are at a point that the ICU's are full, at what point do you say enough.

If you want the business that is open to remain open, wear a mask. If you want to be able to go into a grocery store, wear a mask. These activities and others may not be an option in the near future if we do not slow the spread.

If you want the beaches to reopen, wear a mask so the state and mayor can reopen them

If we want to slow down the spread, a mask for all is one of the tools needed.

Putting on a mask is not hard. The request for wearing a mask is on the low end of the spectrum as far as restrictions are concerned. Lena, if you do not want more restrictive measures imposed, wear a mask and any other measures that they request. Do your self a favor and look up Marshal Law and what restrictions could be put in place if imposed.

We are not wearing a mask just for ourselves, but for all.

Carlos Ponce

Give yourself a medal, Jim.

Joe Mancuso

[thumbup] Well stated! Seems pretty simple, doesn't it, Jim!

Joe Mancuso

Was supposed to be "Well stated, Jim!"

Lena Gilley

Jim! I do wear a mask! Stupid they closed beaches! What a great way to get out and enjoy the fresh air! It is all over hyped!!!!

Michelle Aycoth

My view is not important and will not positively change anything.

Andy Aycoth

Don Schlessinger


Carol Hollaway

Is the Yaroboro Man the Marlboro Man but with a cigar? This is the best laugh I’ve had in a while. Thanks, you crazy buffoons, for making my day!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.