Sitting Ducks – Wales, UK

Something strange is going on in my hometown. The local residents are up in arms about a little patch of tarmac on the seafront. A few months ago it was just a stretch of black nothing no one cared about. This was all before some local skaters (with the aid of the local council, I might add) managed to get the smallest of mini ramps built on this forgotten ground, after suffering a mere six or seven years of government bullshit.

The mini-ramp saga came about after skaters were thrown out of the city’s newly built town square – a perfect modern-day street heaven with everything anyone could need. The mini-ramp was good news for the average street skater, but for the average citizen with nothing better to do, it was the perfect chance for something to moan about. Matters were taken into hand by the council, who were pressured into passing a bylaw that legally lets police confiscate boards on sight and also gives them the power to issue tickets (a first in this area, as far I know). America, here we come.

Not totally unsympathetic to the skaters’ cause, the council bounced back by working with the locals to get the mini together – a makeshift solution to the ongoing problem of finding somewhere to skate. But now the residents are complaining about the eyesore this mini ramp has become. It’s another cut-and-fold case of blatant discrimination against skateboards.

In some ways, skateboarders are fighting a losing battle in society. If cities don’t want you in certain areas, they’re going to stop you – just look at what’s been going on in California. Society wants skateboarding in a sealed-off area, out of the way of the public eye, with all the safety trimmings of pads and helmets, and a nice little observation area on the other side of the fence.

That seems so strange to me, especially in a city like mine, where petty theft, violence, and drug abuse is tolerated in the same way you’d cope with a common cold – have an early night and hope things get better by morning.

People fear criminals because they know there’s nothing they can do about it; criminals live on the other side of the law, in a world untouched by our so-called normal society. So it’s become convenient for everyone to point a finger at skateboarding, and blame it for societal problems. When the police sit us down on curbs to make a public spectacle of us, and to show Joe Taxpayer that his money’s hard at work, all they’re really doing is alienating a voiceless group who scuffs up the occasional curb. The biggest problem facing skateboarders today may be that we’re too easy to catch. – Skin