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BERKELEY SKATERS FIND REFUGE IN DIY PARK
David Ochs Keenan
Imagine for a moment the following scenario: You’re watching some friends playing a game of touch football at a local ball field like you’ve done for years. Suddenly, out of nowhere, police paddy wagons pull up to the curb, officers stream out, block the exits, and line everyone up against a fence. Overnight, not wearing helmets or shin guards is a serious crime. You watch incredulously as everyone gets yelled at, ID’d, then finally, ticketed. But these aren’t parking tickets. They’re full fledged misdemeanor offenses and they’re the beginning of a criminal record. And they start at $100. You realize that some of those kids will not be able to pay, and these tickets will go to warrants before many of them can even drive. Imagine this happening several times a week, and worse, imagine that there’s absolutely no compelling legal reason for it to happen in the first place. and now understand that this is happening not to footballers, but skateboarders, for not wearing a full suit of elbow, knee, and helmet protection at the skatepark immediately adjacent to the ball fields off Harrison Street in Berkeley. Though a seemingly progressive city, Berkeley has chosen to pointlessly socialize their youth population to resent authority figures.

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