A recent incident in which racist insults were spray-painted on a wall at the Kinsmen skate park does not reflect the city’s skateboarding community, say Skateboarding Association representatives.
The incident took place on March 17, when several individuals described as young were observed spray-painting racist insults, including the N-word, on the wall outside the Kinsmen Skate Park bathroom.
Medicine Hat Skateboarding Association President Sam Larsen posted photos of the individuals suspected of being involved in the incident on Facebook with a statement that read: “As the president of the Medicine Hat Skateboarding Association, I am extremely angry about this. We is proud of our skate park and 100 percent does not tolerate it. ”
Larsen repainted the vandalism within 24 hours after it appeared and hopes the incident will not repeat itself.
“Racial slurs and homophobic insults are not okay,” Larsen told the News.
While he is upset about the incident, he hopes it will be a learning experience for those involved.
“I honestly think these kids did not know the extent of what they were doing,” he said. “You would hope someone could talk to these children and make them understand that it is not right.”
Jade Ritchie, Medicine Hat Skateboarding Association member, is proud of the way the association has handled the situation.
“Having that word graffiti on the skate park looks bad on skateboarders and builds a bad reputation,” Ritchie said. “Part of MHSA is just about trying to break that stereotype. We kind of just work on (creating) a community for people to feel welcome and able to skate, but also for the people around you to support you. ”
Larsen agreed with Ritchie.
“What happened on (March 17) has never happened before – not since I was there,” Larsen said. “It definitely has nothing to do with skateboarding.”
Medicine Hat police appreciate the Skateboard Association’s quick response.
“The Skateboard Association was just an excellent partner for the city for skateboard cleanup. (Kinsmen Skate Park) is pretty pristine as far as skate parks go. “They should be very proud of that,” Joe West, MHPS’s operations inspector, told the News.
While West described the vandalism recorded at the skate park as “disturbing”, he said such incidents are rare.
“We do see racist insults (graffiti), but they are quite rare,” West said. “It is very important for the service that we take any kind of hateful graffiti or something similar seriously. We have lodged complaints against such acts in the past.”
West encourages Hatmakers to maintain respect for each other and public spaces.
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