Friday, May 3, 2013

The X Games in an anti-skateboard city?

Charlotte resident Robert Kutrow, 19, has noticed tension between skateboarders and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. Here's his take on the situation:

Charlotte’s skateboard culture, though under the radar for many Queen City residents, has been growing rapidly for the past decade. In fact, Charlotte Motor Speedway is a finalist to host the 2014 X Games competition.Charlotte’s South End area, specifically Camden Avenue, functions as something of a central hub for the city’s skate culture. The neighborhood is home to Black Sheep Skate Shop, a prominent skate outfitter and a meeting ground for local skaters. Shop owner Josh Frazier says many nearby businesses support the “color and diversity” skaters bring to the area.

Not everyone agrees. Residents of nearby condominiums have repeatedly expressed frustration with the noise and danger the skaters present. Skating can cause significant property damage and poses a hazard to other pedestrians, according to CMPD Police Attorney Judith Emken. In 2008, skaters caused an estimated $35,000 in damage to a sculpture outside uptown’s Mint Museum.

This difference in opinion has led to heightened tension between skaters and CMPD. Skateboarding in any roadway is banned in Article I, Sec. 14-3 of the city’s ordinance. While skating on sidewalks is OK, making contact with the street is a class three misdemeanor. It is grounds for seizure of the skateboard and a $250 fine. The skateboard can be reclaimed only after the case is closed.
This happens fairly frequently in the South End area and other areas uptown – so frequently that many skaters feel persecuted.

According to shop owner Frazier, when skateboards are seized, some police officers present the skater with a choice: pay the $250 fine, or the seized board will eventually be destroyed. The boards are actually sold at auction by the police department like any other unclaimed property. Since a brand new skateboard costs about $100 less than the fine, many skaters simply buy another board, continue skating and take their chances that the case gets thrown out.

Skaters have only one city-operated and sanctioned skate park, Grayson Skate Park on Beal Street, which is considered outdated and inferior to other popular but illegal spots uptown.  The city’s other skate park, Methodist Home, was recently permanently closed.
Hosting the X Games when the city’s native skate scene stands at odds with police, residents and the municipal government feels darkly ironic. Frazier hopes to see the construction of a new, updated skate park in the area. If you don’t want kids skating in the streets, he says, you have to give them somewhere else to go.

Using tax dollars for such a project is far-fetched, but perhaps businesses could partner with Parks and Rec to make it happen.
In the meantime, however, citing and fining skaters seems like more trouble than it’s worth. Processing these citations is costly, and is simply not enough disincentive to skaters. Without skating in South End, many businesses would lose a significant portion of their client base.

CMPD Police Chief Rodney Monroe is an outspoken proponent of the idea of community policing, described on the CMPD website as “engaging citizens as active partners in problem identification and crime reduction.” The implementation of a community policing strategy in South End would serve to end the “Us vs. Them mentality,” and foster communication between skaters and police, rather than further embroiling tension between the city and an expanding, creative skate culture.

13 comments:

Tony Byrnes said...

While there is truth to this story, there are answers.My son is a skater, and i have seen the good side of skateboarding, it is not NEGATIVE!The X-GAMES need to come here, to show the support kids would have for this event and show this city and area the GREAT Talent it takes to skate at a high level.There needs to be support for a new public park also, as there's always support for a "field" of some sort, and skaters NEED a public funded place to enjoy there sport as well.You would be amazed how many talented skaters there are in this city between 8-21 yrs old!!!Get OFF the stereotypes Charlotte, and support, and learn something about a cool sport..

Veronica said...

Cranky, narrow minded Charlotte says, "Darn kids! Get off my lawn!"

xup54 said...

Wow, I didn't know we were down to only 1 skate park now. I wonder if there are any other cities of our size with such an unwelcoming attitude towards skate (and biking/bmx) culture.

The skater kids on Camden are part of what makes that neighborhood what it is, and they've been there since before the condos started popping up, so I have little sympathy for anyone who moves into that scene and then decides that they're outraged by it.

I don't think these are necessarily reasons that we shouldn't host the X Games, but honestly Austin probably has the strongest case for it. If this were just for 1 year, not a 3 year contract, I'd be more optimistic.

Bob Traveling randomly said...

Skateboarding is not a crime
Circa the 80s

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rummy said...

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Paul Herber said...

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Danny Person said...

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skateboard said...

i dont know why there against for skating its not a crime online skateboard

skateboard said...

i think they are not against they are not have interest about Skateboard

skateboard said...

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Albert Rowland said...

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