It's a vandalism case that police say is only getting worse, and they say the people responsible may not be doing it on purpose. Now folks in one community are trying to figure out how to stop the problem.
It's a growing sport complete with corporate sponsorships and professional athletes earning top dollar, but also on the rise are property crimes associated with skateboarding. Over the weekend, one Richmond business reported a thousand dollars in damage to hand rails, stair railing, and concrete parking blocks. It's that kind of criminal behavior that EKU freshman Michael Shryock says gives him and his friends a bad rap. "It's kind of changed over time because it was more of like a thrash thing back in like I guess the seventies and eighties, they would go break into people's swimming pools. We don't do that anymore. We actually respect if someone says not to skate here, we'll leave," Shryock said.
Eric Kinslow is studying criminal justice at EKU. He agrees when other skaters commit crimes, it makes them all look bad. "That's vandalism. It's their property. You shouldn't be on it period, even skateboard or no skateboard. You shouldn't be on there," Kinslow said.
Many in the skateboarding community say a public skate park would help. It's an idea city leaders are taking seriously. Richmond Police say property damage from skateboarding is often not intentional. A group has proposed building a public skate park within the city, not as a reward for vandals but as a positive recreational outlet that could also reduce crime. "I see all these things where it says kids should go exercise, go do something. I see skateboarding as another form of that. If you don't like baseball, or you don't like to play soccer, and you like to skate, I shouldn't see why it should be any different," Shryock said.
Proponents of the skate park have formed a nonprofit organization dedicated to the effort. They say they understand Richmond's budget is tight, so they're only asking the city to donate a site. They hope to raise private funds to build the park.
You can learn more about the group's efforts here: