“All I’m saying is that Amity is a summer town — we need summer dollars,” Mayor Larry Vaughn argues after the first attack, when the chief of police wants to close the beaches. It was a phrase that could have been ripped off for a speech by one of the Republican officials who initially refused to shut down his state’s beaches or insisted on reopening the bars.
Even in the face of the gruesome evidence, Mayor Vaughn decides that the victim had been killed by a fishing boat. He tells the police chief that he’s being too hasty — “You yell ‘shark,’ we’ve got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.”
The beaches stay open. The shark kills again, its victim, this time, a young boy.
On the dock, the boy’s grieving mother gives the chief of police — the one man who had been trying to do the right thing — a hard slap across his face. “You knew there was a shark out there,” she says. “You knew it was dangerous. But you let people go swimming anyway. You knew all those things. But still my boy is dead now.”