Sunday, November 15, 2009

Who Knew? Richard Jaeggi Proved My Point In 2005

skateboarding on Ellsworth DriveIn September 2005, Richard Jaeggi who is currently leader of Gandhi Brigade and an adult supervisor of Mixed Unity, wrote an article for the Takoma Voice in his column Big Acorn...addressing exactly the same issue Silver Spring skateboarders are struggling with today.

Richard's kids all skateboard, and in this article he explains how his daughter Lisa researched the issues and found this:
"In her research my daughter discovered that the eastern portion of Ellsworth Drive, the part in front of City Place, was not covered by the lease agreement. One third of the street remained public and was presumably governed by the public laws of Montgomery County — and, it seemed, still subject to the First Amendment. Despite their policy, security guards had no jurisdiction to enforce PFA rules on a public street."
Now I don't know what the managers of DTSS have been telling their security staff because they sure seem to think they DO have the right to restrict peoples' rights on ALL of Ellsworth Drive in DTSS. Somebody needs to send them a memo because I and virtually every skater I know has been harassed and chased off of Ellsworth Drive for skating.

I've been skateboarding for a year now and the harassment started even before DTSS and the Silver Spring Regional Office stopped allowing skateboarding on the lower part of Ellsworth — where DTSS security clearly has no jurisdiction and no right to complain about anything.

But even on the main part of Ellsworth, Richard's kids, Lisa, Daniel, and Isaac, staged a skate-protest way back in 2005, and the security guards who had been aggressively chasing out skateboarders, did absolutely nothing. Why? Because they have no legal right to:
"Lisa and my sons, Daniel and Isaac, concocted a plan to test this theory. On Saturday morning skateboarders began to converge on our house. After feeding them pancakes and orange juice, Lisa gathered the motley crew of about fifteen teens in a circle on the driveway for a pep talk. She told them that this was about their right to stand up and contest something that was unfair. She made them promise to maintain discipline: to be respectful and to let her do the talking if security guards or police confronted them. In high spirits and ready for anything, they set off on their skateboards for their rendezvous with destiny uncertain how this would all play out.

I had volunteered to be their cameraman so I had an insider-outsider perspective on the day. I taped them as they crossed Fenton from the east; skateboards in hand, they were at the same time giddy, anxious, and determined. When they reached the forbidden Silver Sprung they smoothly dropped their boards on to the street and one-by-one proceeded to skate single file around the perimeter of the road-- being careful to avoid the western part of Ellsworth.

Personal experience had prepared each of them for the worst: a stern reprimand with threats of tougher consequences for future disobedience. Nothing had prepared them for what actually happened. The security guards said nothing and did nothing. Wordlessly they did the slow, determined cop-walk past the growing ranks of skateboarding teens."

The drums of Ellsworth — A protest becomes a party

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