A Black surfer shredded his local surfing community in Jupiter, Florida, after he claimed he was harassed by a group of white surfers who nailed his surfboard to a tree.
The Instagram page @black.surfers posted about the incident and included images of the surfboard pinned to a palm tree.
The page wrote of Andrew Mills, the surfer who was harassed, stating that he was subjected to a racially-motivated act of vandalism and a “symbolic lynching of his board.”
Mills spoke with The Daily Beast and said it all started when he went to Jupiter Beach to surf. As he was out on the water, another surfer from an all-white group rushed into him and seemed to purposely flip Mills’ board.
“The message was just to let me know, ‘You can’t come around here and mess with us,’” The 41-year-old father of two told The Daily Beast. “They were trying to throw me out of the water, pushing me around. I know they feel a certain way about me because I’m Black.”
Mills told the outlet they crowded him, told him he wasn’t welcome, and then accused him of being another Black surfer they encountered on another beach. After a brief discussion with Mills on the beach when they tried to talk to him about the hostility, Mills said he just wanted to leave the animosity behind and go back to surfing. That’s when someone stole his surfboard from the back of his truck and nailed it to a tree.
“This is how real the racism and hate is in Jupiter, Florida. They can’t stand to see a Black man in their waters. I was told ‘I’m not welcome,’” Mills said. “Stole my board when I turned my back and they did this. Said it was a message. They nailed it to the tree like a lynching.”
Mills said he didn’t retrieve the board until he had filed a police report but stayed at the beach afterward to show he couldn’t be scared off. He also said some beachgoers approached him to apologize.
“I took the board down, stayed and surfed the whole day with a small board to show face. A few locals that were there were apologizing and agreed it was wrong. They did said, after what happened, I’m welcome to surf their waters freely and no one will bother me. I’m just going to leave it in God’s hands,” Mills said.
In an update, @black.surfers posted that a Palm Beach board shaper would repair Mills’ board. While Mills received a lot of support after the incident was posted to Instagram, some commenters who are locals in Jupiter and frequent the beach said that Mills is a known “instigator” when he visits and that the surfers in town “are far from racist.” However, one commenter who lives nearby said they stopped going to the beaches because of how “uncomfortable it feels.”
As for the culprits behind the incident, they have yet to be found, but the @black.surfers page wrote that Mills said it was someone from the Jupiter surf crew.
“For those in that area, that may know who did this, who do not want the actions of a few to stain the perception of their community, please come forward so we may demand an apology and acknowledgement of the pain they have caused,” the page wrote.