Wednesday night a few Russian women were ticketed $250 a piece for swimming past 6 p.m. at Brighton Beach. The Parks security allegedly threatened to jail them and check up on their immigration statuses. While the Parks Dept. told us that "New York State law does not allow you to swim at your own risk," the swimmers (and eyewitnesses) say that the lifeguards never alerted them that the beach was closing, and simply clocked out without getting anyone out of the water.
One of the women fined, Irina Kovaneva, told us her side of the story, which you can read below:
"We came to the U.S. to escape the Communism regime, the regime when every step is watched and controlled by the government. What I am facing with this incident is a liberal fascism, when government interferes in your personal life and tells you what you should do, how, and when. You feel like you are not responsible for your life any more. Somebody else is. Where is freedom?"
Continue reading after the jump, where Kovaneva brings up a good point about paying lifeguards to stay on duty an extra hour or two during the summer.
"I am adult I know what I am doing. I happened to finish my workday early, so there was a chance for me to swim a little bit in the ocean on the hot August day. I do not have that many chances. I work, I can’t swim from 10 to 6, I only can swim after work. So I went to enjoy swimming. Instead I got yelled at, harassed and abused as many other people every day there. I wonder why instead of paying these extremely rude Parks Securities to go along the beach on the hot summer days yelling and abusing people, the city does not pay the lifeguards to stay until 7 or 8 on duty and let working people swim in the warm water and enjoy the long summer days. Does not it make sense?
How rude and abusive these people are—is another story. They do not treat you as a human being, they treat you like you are a low level something. And they are getting paid with taxpayers’ money, with my money to abuse me and many others like me. Again instead of paying them why not pay lifeguards?
The man who called himself sergeant refused to talk to me and explain anything. He stated he does not have to. Another one refused to give me his name. He rudely yelled at me with a furious face. At the moment when I came out of water he requested the ID from me and threatened to take me to jail for not having one. Do you know anybody who swims with his ID?
In response to your article the Parks Department is referring to New York State law, I would love to see it. I asked the one who issued me summons about it and he refused to give me the information. Regarding the signs on the boardwalk, I never noticed them.
Yes, it is very upsetting. But how it does not happen again? It happens every day during the summer there. You feel like you are in prison or in the mental hospital, not in New York—New York! It is upsetting, but more then upsetting it is super ridiculous! What is going on, people?"