Arts and Culture

A Skateboarder Speaks Out About Recent Showdown with Police

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Guest Post by Ted Maider.  Photos by Theo Hand

There are so many things we should be talking about. Maybe we should be discussing the fact that there is undeniable evidence that our government colluded with Russia in some way to influence the United States Presidential election of 2016. Perhaps we should be talking about the 5 trillion ton iceberg that just broke off the shore of Antarctica. Maybe we should be chatting about the failing of our nationwide educational system, since that department is now headed by a woman willing to meet with groups who shame rape victims. These are all pretty important things to discuss, but something else has vastly dominated local news in the Bay Area this week, and that is skateboarding.

By now, there is a good chance you have seen the video of a police officer strong-arming a man skating down Dolores Street at a hill bombing contest earlier this week. The rider, clocking in around probably 35-40 mph is shown being physically blocked by the officer and then careening out of control into the hood of a police car, causing him to fly about 40 feet down the street. The man remains in critical condition, and the cop “sustained injuries” but still walks around with a job and a medical bill that the police department will ultimately pay for. And here we have just about everything wrong with our city, and our country.

Skaters bombing the hill.

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Earlier this year, a friend of mine was physically assaulted by a group of very drunk boys. The police were called to report the incident, the make and model of the car, and a description of the suspects. The cops arrived on the scene, asked us which direction they fled off in, and we pointed them in the right direction. They took off, and did not return for about three hours. Usually with assault, you would think the police would want to get a story and not blindly chase a suspect who has successfully fled the scene due to their bad response time. This clearly showed that my friend and his pain were not a priority for these officers. Trying to play out a chase scene was, and then getting the facts was secondary after a three-hour leave of absence. Dispatchers often like to claim that the cops are “very busy,” but I would rather spend my tax dollars for cops to track down drunk white male violent offenders than to break up a gathering of skaters who are doing very little wrong in the eyes of society.

What I am saying is justice is rarely served quickly, unless there is an agenda.

We have seen it with this current political administration. President Trump wanted to try and ban immigrants from entering the country (and failed), so ICE was immediately granted the ability to start deporting “so fast it would make their heads spin.” Customs at airports has become a living nightmare as well. This all happened within a few weeks of his administration taking office, and how has it truly kept our country safer? The Republican Party also stated they wanted to defund key branches to our society, and allow a series of unqualified wingnuts to run the show. Our society is cracking so they can turn a profit, and meanwhile, we sit around hoping somebody finally takes action and either finds the right evidence to get them out of office, or files for impeachment. This justice is taking forever because justice for the common American who has no money takes a damn lifetime.

All the while, the government, and our police force continue to divide this country as opposed to unite it. Skateboarding is a unifier, which makes the police presence and course of action at the Dolores Park hill bomb contest inexcusable. Whether or not you understand skateboarding, it has always been something that harbors life long connections between people from vastly different backgrounds. Skateboarding isn’t divided up by race, gender, or social status. It’s divided up by obstacles and abilities, but therefore warrants a lot of mutual respect. Skaters look at a spot to skate completely differently than one another, but their love of the activity is what binds them.

Case in point. On the night after the hill bomb contest, I was walking through my neighborhood to meet some friends for drinks. As I was walking down a nearby hill, I heard the all too familiar sounds of somebody ollying on their board. Upon further inspection, I found it was a father and his son skating the hill together. The father was a former SF skater, and had brought his son from Sacramento to San Francisco to show him around the old neighborhood and skate around the city. I couldn’t help but be touched by this.

The advertised American dream has always shown us images of fathers and sons playing catch together, but maybe that dream has mutated. Skateboarding is a unifying activity and isn’t even just limited to the father/son duo. Recently, on a skating podcast called The Nine Club, professional skater Andrew Reynolds talked about how he and his oldest daughter have been skating together a lot and that he never forced her to do it…she took it up on her own. This isn’t like traditional sports which were crammed down the throats of my peers and I growing up. I can assure you that I have a far better memory of the people I skated in my driveway with throughout middle school, than I do of the people who were on my last soccer team.

The police state this nation is in will continue to drive a wedge between all sorts of people. Hell, the administration in power alone does a fine job of that, but I refuse to let them use skateboarding as any sort of reasonable cause to try and shove some “justice” down our throats. Most people won’t agree with my fellow skaters and I, but that’s alright. Not everyone will understand that culture much like I will never fully understand dub-step. Just know though that skateboarding isn’t the evil the media makes it out to be in times like this. If anything, in these times, we need to keep skating to remember who we can trust, that creativity comes in all different forms and what it feels like to be alive.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website BrokeAssStuart.com is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, Geek.com and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.

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