Opinion » Shredder



The general public already looks with suspicion at skateboarders as scofflaws and hooligans. They can cause property damage, trespass on private property, and are often seen as disrespectful. The average U.S. skateboarder is a 14-year-old white male, so you can throw some adolescence, toxic masculinity, and white privilege into the mix.


And then a few easpecially shitty little skate brats have to go harass roller skaters at the Roller Rink at SLO Town's Santa Rosa Park to further exacerbate the stereotype that skaters are miscreants that don't deserve the $2.2 million 15,000-square-foot skate park the city of San Luis Obispo built for them in 2015.

Last July, a group of young skaters started throwing food and yelling insults and physical threats at members of the SLOCO Junior Derby Devils, a nonprofit recreational league for kids 4 to 17, which reserves the rink every Sunday from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. for practice. Last summer, the skateboarders eventually tore down SLOCO's posters, stormed the rink, and screamed obscenities like the C-word and racial epithets like the N-word at coaches and reportedly called the children "whores."

The police were called but no one was held accountable. Instead, the authorities' "solution" was to close the rink to everyone except those with registered permits. At the time, SLOCO made it clear that locking the skate rink, which is also used for basketball and other activities like rollerblading, wasn't the solution and only punished those seeking recreation.

It was an ugly episode, and the situation was widely reported by publications across the state, including the San Jose Mercury News.

"We had hoped that after the media coverage last summer that the harassment at the hands of young skateboarders at the park would have stopped, and for a short while, it did," SLOCO recently wrote on its Instagram page, "but sadly we are experiencing viable harassment, invasion of a space we rent, and throwing of objects at us during our practice time."

Those little jerks are back! Frankly, if I were part of SLOCO, I'd have someone standing by with a cellphone to capture the little creeps on video (which SLOCO did) and publicly shame them—so far I haven't seen any videos posted anywhere. According to SLOCO, though, "The skate park ambassador was a witness to the events." Hopefully whoever that ambassador is can identify the perpetrators. But according to SLOCO's post, the organization doesn't have a lot faith in the SLO Police Department doing much about it.

"The lack of help from the SLOPD is evidence that a sport that is predominantly female run, led, and attended, shows us where the priority of female and female-presenting members of our community stand in their eyes."

Oh snap, SLO po-po! You just got called transphobic and sexist!

"When young boys are allowed to continuously attack, harass, threaten, and throw sexually charged language at a group of [roller] skaters as young as 6, and not face any recourse, it is clear that the sexism in our community continues," the post said.

Unfortunately, being an asshat isn't against the law.

Dear shitty little skate pricks, you have a super awesome skate park built just for you. Stay there. Have fun! Why can't you let a group of kids enjoy the roller rink next door without harassing them? You're giving young male skateboarders a bad name, and you're embarrassing yourselves by demonstrating you're mean, pathetic, bullies. Sk8, don't hate!

And speaking of hate, we need to hate homelessness, not the homeless. It's culturally too easy to blame the victim, complain about the unhoused cluttering public parks or panhandling downtown. There are solutions to homelessness even though it sometimes seems that all we do is throw tax dollars at a problem that tenaciously remains. Maybe we're throwing money in the wrong places.

If you haven't yet, read this week's cover story about solutions to homelessness. Sure, we have safe parking programs for people with vehicles, but some communities have created safe homeless encampments with tents, toilets, showers, hand-washing stations, security, trash assistance, and various social and medical services as a temporary solution as people transition to permanent housing.

Some communities are now investing in Enhanced Care Management—a Medi-Cal-focused initiative designed to help the unhoused connect to physical, dental, behavioral, and developmental care as well as access to social services, according to the California Department of Health Care Services.

The 5 Cities Homeless Coalition is partnering with SLO County and the city of Grover Beach to look at durable modular cabins, made by a Washington-based company called Pallet. They can lock and are 24/7 shelter—residents don't get kicked out at 7 a.m. and have to "borrow" a shopping cart and drag their belongings around all day.

There's also the idea of tiny-home villages—semi-permanent shelter as people seek longer-term housing.

These are not perfect solutions, but they're helping a lot of people in other communities. The question is why aren't more of these ideas being implemented in SLO County?

If you're tired of seeing the unhoused in public view, give them someplace to go, be willing to invest public money in permanent solutions, and remember, currently 64 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Maybe you're one of them. Δ

The Shredder believes skateboarding is not a crime ... but harassment is. Send tricks and tips to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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