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Surfer Throws Rock at Drone in Bluff Cove

The incident occurred the same day as a planned demonstration against localism in Lunada Bay.

FILE PHOTO: Lunada Bay. Photo credit Ivy Faulkner / Palos Verdes Pictures.
FILE PHOTO: Lunada Bay. Photo credit Ivy Faulkner / Palos Verdes Pictures.

Editor's note: This article was originally published Jan. 23, 2014.

A drone flying over Bluff Cove on the Palos Verdes Peninsula briefly came under attack Monday when a surfer threw a rock at it.

The drone—specifically, a DJI Phantom with a GoPro mounted on it—was capturing video of the waves in the cove that afternoon when it flew over a group of surfers on the beach.

One of the surfers picked up a rock and threw it at the buzzing drone. It missed, though the angle of the GoPro's lens makes it difficult to tell how close the rock came to the unmanned aerial vehicle.

The "attack" came on the same day as a supposed demonstration against localism at nearby Lunada Bay on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

According to KTLA, Christopher Taloa organized the demonstration. 

"Everybody can blame me for this," Taloa said. "As far as I'm concerned, there's so many people just in this neighborhood alone that want to surf here, and they can't because they're scared."

Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes Estates is well-known for its locals-only approach. It is home of the infamous "Bay Boys," a surf gang that in the past has harassed non-locals with intimidation, vandalism and even violence. In the 1990s, at least one member faced criminal charges, according to the Los Angeles Times

Nevertheless, it seemed to be "business as usual" in Lunada Bay on Monday, according to a firsthand report by Reid Levin posted on The Inertia. At least 10 officers were at the beach in case things got out of hand. 

"The police supervision kept things peaceful, but appeared to do nothing to dissuade the heavy regulation of Lunada Bay's lineup," Reid wrote. "Any kind of call to action to overturn the reportedly decades-long history of localism was nearly undetectable."

Steve January 25, 2014 at 12:48 PM
Linda: You don't need releases or permission to capture an image of someone in public. "Your rights as a photographer: When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view." There is no such "right" from being photographed in public.
Tom Wheeler January 25, 2014 at 04:44 PM
Steve, One can make a pretty reasonable argument that private spaces can exist in public areas. You can't go and stick a camera in someone's tent at a park - or the public bathroom. Likewise, if surfers happen to be changing out of a swimsuit under a towel or something, I doubt they feel comfortable seeing a remote-controlled camera buzzing them. It shouldn't be legal, even if it still is.
Linda January 25, 2014 at 05:36 PM
Technology is ahead of legislation.
Steve January 25, 2014 at 06:01 PM
Tom: Yes, but the key words are "in plain view". Those scenarios wouldn't count as in plain view. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy out in plain view, as these folks were. The person with the camera had as much right to use the public space for filming as they had the right to be there.
Jonathan Corbett January 29, 2014 at 04:00 AM
how dare this drone takes a pic of someone..you get THEIR permission first...err no lucky they didnt have a gun to shoot it down with..in plain view does not mean aiming a camera at people..keeping it there for a while ..if the operator was not trying to be a hero and fly straight and do the filming of the waves as suggested ,this fella prolly would not have thrown anything ..just media hype as always

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