Man chains himself to the beach in protest of potential privatization

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — A man is sending a message to Nassau County leaders by chaining himself to the beach.

Ronald ‘Zurié' Starling, voluntarily chained himself to the sand at Burney Park in Fernandina Beach.

"I want to send a message that we're not leaving this beach," said Starling.

He's been camped out in protest since Nov. 4.

His protest for beach rights has made him somewhat of a local celebrity.

"He is a warrior, and this is a battle, and we need to win this war," said Barbara Coley.

Camping on the beach has drawn some controversy. It's an issue that county commissioners will discuss Monday night.

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Opponents said campers trash the place, but Starling said those who disrespect the beach are not locals.

He offered a solution.

"Start charging for parking and for permits for us to come out and camp. I don't mind paying that if it's going to stop that," said Starling.

Since he started his protest Starling hasn't been alone. He's had friends, family and even strangers visit him. Some bring him food with words of encouragement.

Starling is the leader of a group called Night Sanders that often camp on the beach.

But he said that the area holds much more meaning that goes back decades.

"Abraham Lincoln Lewis purchased this land for blacks to have a place of recreation without humiliation -- those were his words," said Starling.

He said the hardest thing has been the weather, but he's braving the elements because he cares.

He will be at the meeting Monday night at 6 p.m. to speak before county commissioners.

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