“I just assumed that it meant the bathrooms were closed, not that I would be breaking the law”
Oct. 15, 2013
International students and their teacher hoping to get a peek of Olympic National Park were met with surprise when instead they ended up being ticketed by the National Park Service for “violation of closure” – entering the park during the government shutdown, reported the Peninsula Daily News.
Kelly Sanders, a sixth grade teacher from Port Angeles, Wash., took a group of six students, including two from Japan, and four other college students visiting from Indonesia, Hong Kong and China, to hike at Washington’s beautiful Olympic National Park over the weekend.
The group traveling in three vehicles, pulled off the highway into the Barnes Point lot at Lake Crescent where they began taking photographs in front of the Storm King Ranger Station.
Soon, Park Ranger Jennifer Jackson (who was on duty but not getting paid), pulled up in her patrol car and asked to see all three of the driver’s licenses. Ranger Jackson then issued all three drivers, including Sanders, a $125 ticket.
The students were surprised and confused of course, they didn’t understand how an intended hike could be breaking the law. “I didn’t know how to explain it to them because I can’t really understand why all this happened myself,” said Sanders.
Sanders admits that she saw a “sandwich board sign” that read “Because of the federal government shutdown, this National Park Service facility is closed.” She also saw orange cones partially blocking off the Storm King lot, but the opening was wide enough for her to easily maneuver her car through.
“If I knew I was going to get a ticket, I probably wouldn’t have gone in there,” said Sanders.
Another woman named Leanne Potts, who was ticketed in the same area said, “When I think of facilities, I think of buildings or bathrooms or features or something.”
Both women say they were confused by the wording on the sign, and were simply just trying to enjoy nature’s beauty.
“I just assumed that it meant the bathrooms were closed, not that I would be breaking the law,” said Sanders.
Both women described Ranger Jackson as being “remorseful” during the ticketing process, adding she admitted she wasn’t being paid while working. Jackson told the women, “Feel free to complain. We welcome your complaints.”
Both women plan to fight their tickets, however the appeal will require a 2.5 hour road trip to Tacoma, Wash.
Local park officials and officials from the Department of Interior could not be reached for comment Monday due to it being a federal holiday.
The federal government has immensely taken advantage of the National Park Service during the government shutdown, using them as authoritarians to harass, ticket and arrest tourists. Last week the National Park Police were ordered to conduct around-the-clock surveillance of the Grand Canyon National Park.
Earlier in the month, Infowars exposed the feds using “‘gestapo tactics’ treating senior citizens like terrorists during the shutdown of Yellowstone National park, placing them under armed guard in a locked hotel as panicked tourists thought they had been arrested, vowing never to return to America.”