Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let the Skateboarders Skate

On Friday evening I sent an email to Jennifer Nettles, Property Manager of DTSS, and Mike Petty, Head of Security, asking what legal basis they're using for kicking out skateboarders on Ellsworth Drive. We previously blogged about the Gazette quoting Nettles saying that Ellsworth Drive is public space, with Paul Liquorie of MCPD confirming that. And since it is public space, DTSS Security needs a legal basis for telling people they can't skateboard on that street.

While the main part of Ellsworth Drive is far from an ideal place to skate, and while we know that DTSS management doesn't want skating going on there, those facts don't provide justification for kicking skaters out, and for telling anyone they can't skate there.

I have often attempted to argue this point with DTSS Security Guards, who always resorted to telling me "we have a no-skateboarding sign!" But that's incredibly weak. Anyone can post a no-skateboarding sign...on private property. But we're talking about PUBLIC property here. Property owned and governed by Montgomery County, and subject to Montgomery County and Maryland laws.

What laws are you using to tell me and other skaters that we can't skate there? I think that's a very reasonable question. I'm still waiting for an answer.

And that no-skateboarding sign? It's gone. So if DTSS Security can longer point to a sign as justification for kicking skaters out, what justification are they going to use now?

Back in 2005 Gandhi Brigade leader Richard Jaeggi wrote about DTSS' rigorous enforcement of the skateboarding prohibition, and his daughter Lisa Jaeggi, a skateboarder herself, made a short film of a skate-protest to encourage skaters to stand up for their rights" and skate on Ellsworth.

Here's what Richard said in the Takoma Voice:
Nowhere in Silver Spring is the prohibition of skateboards more rigorously enforced than in the heart of Silver Sprung on Ellsworth Drive. White shirt security guards, red shirt Urban Crewmembers, and brown shirt Montgomery County officers are vigilant in their goal of making the town safe from skateboarding teens.
While Lisa Jaeggi's skate-protest may have lessened the heat momentarily, I have personally been harassed and kicked out of Ellsworth many times over the course of the past year. Same street, same rigorous enforcement of the same suspect policy.

I can't make anyone answer an email, and they can ignore my question if they want to. But they can't ignore this issue. And without a legal basis for prohibiting skateboarding, DTSS Security is going to have to cut the crap, and let the skateboarders skate.

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