PAPER CHAINS

posted by / News / May 5, 2003

“Fliers. That’ll show ‘em.”Localism, already on the ropes after a series of legal body blows, was dealt another left hook when two San Francisco surfers were sentenced in the beating of another surfer at Fort Point. On April 30, U.S. Magistrate, James Larson sentenced Ryan Farrell, 31, and Yoel Gorfain, 23, to probation and community service. Larson’s idea of community service in the case was either creative or absurd depending on whom you ask. He’s requiring the men to pass out fliers to surfers reminding them of the criminal consequences for aggressive territorialism. It’s unlikely, though, that Farrell, who was cited as the main aggressor in the incident that took place in March 2002, will be seen with handouts under the Golden Gate Bridge. He’s been banned from Fort Point and its neighboring beaches for three years. It was a similar punishment to two prominent court cases involving Carter Slade of Oxnard and David Ortega of Port Hueneme who in recent years were banished from their local spots as a result of separate incidents of assault.Fort Point, a powerful left with a ridiculously strong current, has a notoriously tight takeoff area, making for a handful of physical confrontations over the years. Yet this case had nothing to do with anything that happened in the lineup. The victim Adam Browning, 32, from Berkeley, said Farrell attacked him before he even caught a wave. “He started yelling shit at me when I was on the rocks trying to get out,” said Browning. Farrell started punching Browning and was joined by Gorfain and another man, Jeffrey Duerson, 22, of San Francisco. Most of the fight took place in thigh high water. Farrell was held under water, his nose was broken and he ended up with eight stitches on his head. “It was basically the most terrifying situation you could find yourself in, right on the rocks, swells rolling in,” said Browning. “It wasn’t where you’d want to be.”Farrell and Gorfain both pled guilty, but Duerson was acquitted despite the fact that a videotape of the beating was played at his trial.Browning was not happy with the outcome. “The judge didn’t take this seriously,” said Browning. “He basically gave them a slap on the wrist.” Browning would have liked to see all three receive jail terms. “What they do is functionally equivalent to terrorism,” he said.Farrell’s defense attorney, Arthur Wachtel, on the other hand, was satisfied with the Judge’s decision and felt that the fliers were a way to start a constructive dialogue about localism and violence in surfing. “What needs to change is not any one individual, it’s the culture,” said Wachtel. Wachtel was careful not to condone Farrell’s actions but said, “the video made it clear that Browning was ready, willing and able to engage in that kind of conflict.” — Jamie Tierney

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