A Florida woman who called the cops on a black man watching his son’s soccer game is getting support from the athletic association for which she works as a field marshal — but the dad in question says he’s owed an apology.
“Golfcart Gail” made national headlines following an incident Sunday in which she called the police to complain about parent Gerald Jones to report him for “harassment.” But witnesses who filmed the encounter say that Jones had done nothing wrong and had merely told his soccer-playing son to listen to the referee overseeing the match.
The unnamed woman, identified as a field marshal for the Ponte Vedra Athletic Association in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., allegedly told responding officers that she “she feared for herself and the children because she didn’t know what he [Jones] was capable of.” After hearing both sides, officers let Jones leave.
The woman’s interference has been decried as racially motivated. Despite the backlash, the Ponte Vedra Athletic Association insists that she was in the right.
“The Ponte Vedra Palm Valley Athletic Association puts the welfare of children above all else,” Gary Easom, president of the association, said in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle. “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 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 statement continues. “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.”
Now Jones is having his say. The auctioneer and father got emotional as he recounted the incident — and its impact on his son — in an interview with ABC News.
“I’m working hard every day,” he said. “Do everything right. Love everybody. And my son, he’s like, ‘Hey, I just don’t understand it.’ I don’t understand it. Something has to be done. What can be done? I don’t know, but it’s just too much.”
He added that he “absolutely” is owed an apology.
Meanwhile, witness Maria Morales Walther is defending Jones, claiming that “Golfcart Gail” became “aggressive.”
“She was barking at him, ‘You can’t be yelling at the ref,’ and he said, ‘Ma’am, I am talking to my son,’ and she said, ‘I don’t care who you are talking to,’” Walther told the local ABC affiliate.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: