Are you a bit startled, hearing that if skateboarding is a crime or not? Yeah, it’s that kind of a statement to be so. Or, if you aren’t hearing it the first time, you may have seen “skateboarding is not a crime” on vans, walls, t-shirts, hoodies, or elsewhere. We know what you are thinking. Hell, no! It’s neither a crime nor illegal. Then why the heck a sport like skateboarding is being labeled as a crime? You’ll get all the mystery solved at the end of this discussion.
Let us tell you the expression hasn’t come in one day. You’ll need to travel around the pages of history also. For your convenience, we’ve organized our article parted into different sections so that you can get a complete notion about this.
History of Skateboarding Subculture: How It Came
In the early 1950s, skateboarding first emerged in California. Though many claims that skateboarding started its journey in the 1930s, it was not much popular then.
The surfers in California came with the idea of skating as an alternative to surfing. Because there was no surf in the ocean and the waves were flat, surfing was quite impossible. They were hugely inspired by the scooters and thought to use their surfboards with attached wheels on the streets.
Over the decades, it gradually became fashionable and attractive, and people started to skate on the streets, sidewalks, backyard, here and there.
Background of ‘Skateboarding is not a crime’
Skateboarding mostly attracted the teens, and they used to do it everywhere because there were not sufficient skate parks in the earlier decades. They started trespassing to the public and private properties for skating. In this regard, we can mention the famous Z-boys from Venice, California.
As you know, skateboarding is full of tricks, while doing tricks, the skaters damaged curbs, stone works, step benches, and other properties. They were blamed for causing public nuisance and accidents. So the police and law enforcers started to seize their boards or arrest them as it is a crime.
We couldn’t figure out who first started saying this phrase. But it got a trademark in 1997 when NHS, INC. began to use it on their boards.
You can learn more from the famous book “Skateboarding is Not a Crime: 50 Years of Street Culture” by James Davis.
At present, the situation hasn’t changed totally. Even today, the skaters have to struggle for their freedom of skating. You often can see the stickers, skateboards saying ‘skateboarding is not a crime.’
The harassments by Police have not stopped completely. They arrest teenagers and juveniles with charging for gangs, vandalism, truancy, delinquency marijuana case, rebellion, etc. Though some good Cops appreciate skateboarding, the numbers aren’t so many.
Skatepark is such a place where skaters can skate safely without fear. But we have not adequate skateparks. One research of 2019 shows that there are approximately 3500 skateparks in America today, and we need 3000 skateparks more to fulfil the needs.
Why Skateboarding is Considered As a Crime
According to the definition of crime, any act is a crime when there are illegal means, and it is done with criminal intention. In light of this definition, skateboarding can never be a crime unless there is criminal intent. Still, skateboarders are subjected to crime and penalty.
The main reason is the socio-economic condition. Some teenagers come from low-income families, become truant, and get involved with gangs and other dangerous activities. Other teen skateboarders become the scapegoats while searching for them.
Plus, the landowners complain to the authorities for trespassing and destroying their property against the skaters. That makes a wrong impression on them.
As a result, ‘Skateboarding prohibited,’ ‘Skaters not allowed’ these are typical scenes nowadays.
According to the statistics, each year, a large number of skateboarders get fined for violation of traffic rules and public peace.
What the Skateboarders Believe
Though the authority and the public think of the skaters as a bunch of punks and vandals, the end of the day, it’s only a sport. That’s what the skateboarders opine.
Some may do vandalism or crime on purpose, but the passionate skateboard lovers never think of it. For them, it’s an emotion, profession, pastime, and hobby. They don’t intend to do any harm or damage to others.
A large number of skaters use skateboard for daily commuting. For them, it’s a mode of personal transportation to go to workplaces.
So, whenever there is any unnecessary harassment, they protest it by saying or by showing logos.
Relevant Skateboarding Laws
Many youth skateboarders don’t care or know much about the existing skateboarding laws. The authorities have enacted these laws to control skateboarding and additional accidents, harms, injuries, etc. Also, there are some rules and regulations to safeguard the rights of the landowners.
These skateboarding laws vary from state to state, city to city, town to town. For example, some states follow the theory of ‘premises liability.’ Some states have prohibited skateboarding as a recreational activity.
The respective local ordinances regulate the laws which are based on time, manner, age, and location. The intention is not to offend the skaters, but to ensure public peace, law, and order.
Views and Contributions of Various Organizations
Every year on 21st June, IASC observes the ‘Go Skateboarding Day’ to promote, support, and make it accessible to the world. On this day, the skateboarders celebrate and protest against the authority to stop seeing it as a crime.
In 2007, in remembrance of Harold Hunter- the famous American professional skateboarder, Harold Hunter Foundation had been created. And every summer, it arranges after-school skate camp for the underprivileged ones who cannot afford other sports.
On his final assignment, Romanian filmmaker Christian Radu made a short animated film about skateboarding to show the world and inspire the skaters.
What the Skaters Should Do
You have some duties not only for avoiding unwanted incidents while skateboarding but also as a good citizen. Keep in mind; if you are respectful to the authority, then the authority will respect you.
- Know the municipal laws and state laws relating to skateboarding before riding
- If you go to another city, then learn the rules and regulations first for riding a skateboard
- Take permission from the landowners before entering into the private properties. Even if they don’t give consent, don’t disrespect them
- Avoid getting involved with vandalism
- Ride your skateboard only in the allowed areas and times
- Obey the curfew bylaws
Here we are to conclude our article with the verdict that skateboarding is not a crime at all but prohibited in some places and circumstances. Like every other sport, it’s good exercise and can make a person productive and persistent. So, be obedient to the administration and don’t stop riding.