A woman riding past a teen soccer game on a golf cart in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., last weekend decided to call the police on a man who was shouting out to his son on the field, say eyewitnesses.
Ginger Galore Williams, whose child is also on the team, captured photos from the incident and posted them to Facebook on Sunday. Williams implied that the act was racially motivated, as the woman in the golf cart — who turned out to be a field marshal — is white and the soccer dad is black.
Williams says the incident happened after the referee made a call that the man’s son wasn’t happy with. After the dad yelled out to the boy, “The ref is right!” the unidentified woman — seemingly a passerby not involved in the game — decided to confront him and “remind him that harassment would not be tolerated.”
When the dad tried to explain that she must be mistaken because he was only talking to his son, the marshal refused to back down, according to Williams. The man offered to leave in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, at which point the woman — who Williams dubbed “Golfcart Gail” — whipped out her phone and let him know she was calling the police “because she no longer felt safe with his threatening behavior.”
That’s when a second soccer mom, Maria Morales-Walther, grabbed her own phone and started recording. In the video, the frustrated man can be heard explaining to the woman in the golf cart that he wasn’t talking to her — that he wasn’t even talking to the refs. “I talked to my son, and I still get this from you?” he asks. The marshal then calmly raises her phone to her ear.
In the video, Morales-Walther can be heard explaining that the man was standing right next to her at the game when “this woman decides to butt in somehow.” At this point, another woman, off camera, is heard telling Williams, “Ma’am, you can leave too,” and Morales-Walther fumbles with the camera as if shoved. “You’re gonna have to move me. The cops are going to have to move me,” she says, refusing to leave the situation.
In the Facebook post, which Williams titled “SOCCER WHILE BLACK,” she wrote, “What makes this even worse, is that a parent had actually been ejected from this game during the third period. There had to be a delay of game due to the disturbance yet, Golfcart Gail didn’t need to call the police on [the other man]. Why weren’t the police called? What was the difference? I’ll give you a guess.”
Morales-Walther agreed that the dad was simply reminding his son to be a good sport. “At no point was he aggressive,” she said. When he tried to explain the situation to the field marshal, she told him to sit down, but he continued to argue his innocence, says Morales-Walther. The woman in the golf cart can be heard trying to kick Morales-Walther off the field too. “You can tape yourself, as you’re walking out,” she can be heard saying, as reported by local NBC affiliate First Coast News.
When police arrived on the scene, it was Williams’ turn to start recording. In a second, almost five-minute video, the marshal, now out of her golf cart, explains to an officer that she was doing her job for the Ponte Vedra Athletic Association — which parents claims they had to piece that together because the woman never identified herself to them. The woman allegedly told the officers that she “feared for herself and the children because she didn’t know what he [the father] was capable of.”
On the video, two officers can be seen trying to defuse the situation, first listening to the man’s account of events, then listening to the Athletic Association rep’s version. All the while, Williams continues to record — even when the woman threatens to stop talking until cameras are turned off. Finally, one of the officers lets the dad leave, saying, “I don’t have any reason to detain you.”
Gary Easom, president of the Ponte Vedra Athletic Association, later told First Coast News that the altercation is being publicly “mischaracterized” and that it has to do with parents behaving badly. “This happens more times than I would like,” he told the outlet, adding that parents are not supposed to be approaching their children during soccer games.
But Williams isn’t buying it. She wrote on Facebook:
“Shame on you Golfcart Gail for what you did to this man and to the children who had to see this. Can you imagine how afraid his child must have been to see this happening?! Do you know how quickly in America a situation can go wrong? You probably don’t care Golfcart Gail, because you have the privilege of not caring. Thank you to the officers who did respond for listening to everyone and making sure the situation was dissolved safely. So long as this s*** continues to happen, I will continue to speak out against it. Black Lives Matter. Don’t ask me again why I kneel.”
Yahoo Lifestyle spoke with Morales-Walther, who said it’s normal for field marshals to patrol games, but not for them to fail to identify themselves — and definitely not for them to call the cops on rowdy parents. “For all we know she could have been a concession stand worker in a golf cart,” Morales-Walther said. She said this marshal later identified herself to officers as “director” of the Ponte Vedra Athletic Association — when in reality, she was allegedly a volunteer. Morales-Walther added that she had never seen the woman before.
Morales-Walther describes a situation in which the overzealous dad was shouting to his son as previously reported, and the referee in turn told him to be quiet and sit down. “She [the field marshal] was wheeling up at that instance. She’s like, ‘Hey, you can’t talk to the ref like that!'”. She said the marshal started “scolding him like he was five years old” and threatened to call the cops if he didn’t leave the field — even though she didn’t threaten another parent she had kicked off the field just minutes before. Morales-Walther said, “Mind you the first dad, he wasn’t white or black, maybe Hispanic,” noting that she herself is also Hispanic.
She said including herself and Williams, the field marshal had kicked out a total of four parents from the game that day. “She was really on a roll.”
Yahoo Lifestyle received this statement from the Ponte Vedra Athletic Association:
“The Ponte Vedra Palm Valley Athletic Association puts the welfare of children above all else. The PVAA Code of Conduct protects children in a number of ways, including the prohibition of inappropriate conduct such as berating referees, coaches or athletes, and “coaching” children from the sidelines. Unfortunately, parents sometimes violate the conduct code while watching games. When such violations occur, our staff addresses the violator or violators and and ask that they behave appropriately. If, after warnings, the violators continue to behave badly, staff is left with no choice but to call law enforcement, consistent with county policy. That is an extreme circumstance which seldom occurs, but that is exactly what happened in this situation. The authorities were not called solely for this particular incident, but as a result of a culmination of several immediate prior incidents. The field marshal acted appropriately and without malice to ensure the welfare of the children she is charged with protecting. Unfortunately, an incomplete narrative of this incident was posted and sensationalized, creating a wholly inaccurate and irresponsible version with little relation to what actually happened that day. It was an unfortunate incident and I am sorry it happened, but our team acted appropriately to protect the children, consistent with our organizational mission.”
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