Source: Logan News Group (Yahoo)
Date: May 11, 2003
Byline: D. Michael Blackie
Happy Mother's Day Mom...But I've Got Some Bad News...I was "Busted" Today For Skateboarding.
I imagine that's how the conversation will go for several young people this Mother's Day Sunday. I witnessed one of the most ludicrous acts of my life at Dilworth Plaza outside City Hall on Mother's Day. While watching some talented, agile and creative young people skateboarding and sweating to 'land' just right, And, expressing their First Amendment Right to Free Expression along came two of "Philadelphia's Finest" and chased down several of the young folks like dogs, captured and handcuffed them and treated their 'board' like it was a lethal weapon, all in the name of justice and keeping our fair city free of crime! Suddenly, I feel all warm and safe. NOT REALLY!!!
Well, in hindsight, I think I'd rather have the streets free of Drugs and Prostitutes and Guns and let the skaters have a space to call their own. Since moving to Logan I was held up at gunpoint and robbed and it took the Police over 7 minutes to respond. I call constantly about the open drugs and prostitution on my corner and the police NEVER even respond. Maybe, because they are too busy chasing down criminal skaters for that $25 dollars that they get when the skater pleads "Guilty" to skating (in Traffic Court, of all places). Hey, I've got a great idea! Let's pay for Operation SAFE STREETS with all that revenue from those real criminals- the skaters. While we're at it, let's put a line item in the Capital Budget for a Skate Park. I was honestly outraged to see two Police officers chasing skaters like their life depended on apprehending them. It's a sad day when we talk the talk, but can't walk the walk. Advocates for a "Children's Agenda"? Protest in Harrisburg for "Equal Funding For Schools"? Open space preservation? As long as it's not for skaters? I might mention that these skater felons aren't "Children". Several I spoke to are tax paying, working, (over age 18, some as old as 25) contributing citizen's of our happy municipality. One is a free lance photographer for a skater magazine and pays a "Business Privilege Tax" to live and work here.
Somebody in this hamlet we call home needs to get a clue. Skaters are people too. Some of them are VOTERS! Many of them and/or their parents are contributors to the tax base of this City. Many of them are artistic, creative and expressive and of College age...and they skate. Isn't there a new movement to attract the "College Crowd" with the "Philadelphia: One Big Campus" ad campaign. Just what are we going to do when those college types bring their 'skateboard' with them to school?
And we continue to wonder why the city is shrinking. Why don't people want to live here? Why would you? I choose to stay in the city because the cities are the heartbeat of this country. But for god's sake folks can we get with the program? We spend millions of dollars on an "Avenue of the Arts" we act as if we embrace arts and culture. We act as if we give a damn about youth and the future of our city and we have Police deployed to chase down skaters and write citations to deter them and generate revenue. Yet, we sit on drug corners and "observe" the dealing to tun it over to the narcotics division for investigation. Only thing is all those guys are out there on drug corners too...OBSERVING! (And some helping themselves to the cash revenues of the corner to which they are deployed). All I can say is Tuesday, May 20th is your chance to speak to your mind in the privacy of that Voting booth. Know your issues, and VOTE for what you believe in. In the meantime, somebody,...anybody, PLEASE tell me that we really believe in the things we say and that it's not all a heap of rhetoric and doublespeak. Then, maybe I'll believe that Philadelphia is "The City That Loves You Back".