Another Case of Cops Harassing Skaters
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LAWRENCE — A brief but festive — and risky — local tradition was extinguished last night when police Officer Robert Moody pulled his cruiser up to the corner of Bowdoin and Clifton streets and ordered the small crowd of adolescents longboarding on the street to toss their boards in his trunk. The kids protested but didn’t resist.
“It’s going to happen every time,” Moody said about the stepped-up enforcement against the longboarders, most of them boys between 9 and 16 years old, who have been meeting at the corner most evenings since the city paved Bowdoin Street early last summer. “Kids are going to get killed. They need to find an open parking lot or something.”
The new sheen of asphalt and the street’s gentle slope have made it a magnet for the longboarders – who ride on platforms that are longer and wider than traditional skateboards. Their fearlessness in confronting drivers and the clatter of their evening ritual have been driving the neighborhood nuts.
“It’s a fatality waiting to happen,” said Brenda Rozzi, president of the Sacred Heart Neighborhood Association, which is pushing the City Council to enact an ordinance banning skateboarders and longboarders from local streets. “They’re in hordes, riding the skateboards. You can’t see them. They’re just flying. They’re going down the hill two, three, four across and they’re not moving out of your way.”
Moody told the six or eight boys whose boards ended up in his trunk that they can reclaim them by bringing their parents to police headquarters, where they’ll get an explanation of the dangers of boarding without helmets, through intersections and at night. As Moody pulled away, several of the boys offered their view of the police action. “It’s ignorant and stupid,” said Brian Morales, a fourth-grader at the Robert Frost Elementary and Middle School. “We weren’t doing anything. We were just power boarding. I just learned how to stalefish.”
Several of the boys said city sidewalks are too cracked for boarding and said the platforms in the $500,000 skateboard park the city opened in 2007 are too steep for longboarding. Several said the city should build a new park for longboards in an abandoned mill or warehouse, or tear down an existing building to make room for a park. One boy suggested a site for a new longboard park. “They should knock down the Frost,” said Felix Rodriguez, a ninth-grader at the school