Monday, November 30, 2009

Skater-hating in DTSS

Most kids who skateboard in downtown Silver Spring will tell you there's a very intense anti-skateboarding and anti-skateboarder atmosphere in DTSS. Here's some of what contributes to that atmosphere:
  • The DTSS no-skateboarding rule and its enforcement. I and many skateboarders in the area have not just been asked to stop skating on Ellsworth, we've been yelled at, harassed, and threatened with police action, and two skaters reported being physically grabbed by DTSS security, and one said his skateboard was taken (the skater said he was able to snatch his board back.)
  • I and other skaters were threatened with police action for simply standing on Ellsworth Drive while carrying our skateboards. Some kids had been skating, but they had definitely and clearly stopped when we were told to leave Ellsworth, and when a DTSS security guard actually reported us to the police via his walkie talkie.
  • I'm not aware of a no-skateboard sign in the Majestic Theater, but they don't allow patrons to carry skateboards into their theaters.
  • Fuddruckers has a sign near the entrance stating that patrons cannot bring boards inside the restaurant.
  • Several skaters reported being kicked out of Potbelly's for carrying skateboards. I have not seen a no-skateboard sign in the store.
  • The new Rainbow store in City Place recently asked me to leave their premises, (I'm a 48 year old mom), for carrying a skateboard inside their store.
There's a long history here. Richard Jaeggi wrote about it back in 2005:
Nowhere in Silver Spring is the prohibition of skateboards more rigorously enforced than in the heart of Silver Sprung on Ellsworth Drive.
Since Montgomery County does not have an anti-skateboarding ordinance, I find it difficult to understand how and why the lawful act of riding on a skateboard or even carrying a skateboard is often treated like some terrible crime in DTSS. And I can't understand any of this in light of County Executive Ike Leggett's letter to DTSS, after photographer Chip Py was almost arrested for taking pictures in in DTSS back in 2007:
"The County considers Ellsworth to be a public forum permitting the free and unfettered exercise of First Amendment rights by residents of the County and its visitors to the extent as those rights are exercisable by residents and visitors to the County on any public sidewalk or public street within the County...I trust that you will agree with me and will ensure that your rules and regulations for the use of Ellsworth by the public appropriately recognize and protect the First Amendment rights of residents and visitors."
And I can't understand why, after emailing the DTSS Property Manager and her head of security on November 14th, asking what legal basis they're using for prohibiting skateboarding on Ellsworth Drive, I still have not gotten an answer.

I question the rule and the way its been enforced. And I seriously question the logic of essentially criminalizing kids for participating in a sport.

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