Doug Thomas

Doug Thomas and his girlfriend, Dianne Buchkoski. The couple expected to have a nice day at the beach Monday, June 8, but instead Thomas was cited by Rehoboth Beach police for not wearing a facemask while on the boardwalk. 

Doug Thomas just wanted to go to Rehoboth Beach.

But before the 56-year-old Lancaster resident was able to relax by the beach, Rehoboth Beach police officers cited Thomas for not wearing a mask while on the boardwalk. 

Because masks aren't required on the street or the beach in Delaware, Thomas thought he'd be fine to walk the 50-foot stretch from the street to the beach without one around 12:30 p.m. June 8.   

In between the street and beach, however, was the boardwalk. Delaware Gov. John Carney modified the State of Emergency May 22 to require boardwalk guests to wear face coverings. 

As Thomas crossed the boardwalk and made it to the sand, a season cadet told him masks were required on the boardwalk. 

A post on the Rehoboth Beach Police Department's Facebook page states that after the cadet told Thomas to put on a mask, Thomas replied that the cadet would have to "make him." 

"I don't recall saying that," he said. 

After refusing to put on a mask, Thomas made his way down to the beach, where he was later located by police. 

For two hours, Thomas and the police officers went back-and-forth. Police asked Thomas for his name to issue him a citation; Thomas refused. 

Instead Thomas provided a fake name: "Jimmy T. Flynn."

"I was joking," he said. 

Finally, Thomas provided his name and was issued the first civil citation associated with this regulation in Delaware, police said. 

"It was such a waste of time," Thomas said. 

A warning would have sufficed for not wearing a mask, Thomas said. 

"I don't think the violation warrants a citation," he said. 

Thomas claims that the police department's Facebook post — which has been shared over 300 times — tells a false narrative. 

"The vast majority of what they said in their statement was inaccurate," Thomas said. 

Passersby didn't shout at Thomas, he said. The police department's post said some individuals were "upset and yelling at the man about his failure to comply with the mask regulation."  

Thomas said that he's only received support from family and friends — and even from strangers at Rehoboth who recognized him from the incident. 

Thomas said he saw other people on the boardwalk without masks. He provided LNP | LancasterOnline with several photos of mask-less people on the boardwalk June 8, the same day he was cited. 

'Law-abiding citizen'

When going to the grocery store, Thomas wears a mask. When he recently went to a restaurant, he wore a mask until he was seated. 

"I'm a law-abiding citizen in general," he said. 

He said that the government and law enforcement agencies are "winging it." Their response to the virus is an overreaction, he said. 

"My view is if you don't want to get sick, don't go out," Thomas said. 

Thomas has created a GoFundMe campaign to help with his legal fees. The fundraiser's goal is currently $25,000. 

Thomas created it because he wants "to bring awareness to this foolishness" and give like-minded people an opportunity to support him. Any funds leftover after he pays his legal fees will be refunded, he said. 

Thomas has pleaded not guilty and asked for a trial, he said. 

He doesn't believe governor's State of Emergency was created for beach guests walking across the boardwalk. 

"Why they chose to selectively enforce this law on me, I have no idea," Thomas said.