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New York Skaters Fighting For Their Turf

By Andres Pachon

A. Pachon, a journalist and skateboard addict, is a full-time writer for SHIT® Magazine.


Skaters in New York had been using the city asphalt in the East Village as a spot. But now they struggle with the Parks Department that want to cover it all with artificial grass. The Tompkins Square Park is so much more that only a spot, its a space in the East Village that is the base of a skate community full with friendships, allowing every skater to learn new skills and feeling part of something.


Tompkins Square Park, Part of the Skate Culture in the City


It has been a fundamental place for skateboarding in his three decades of existence. The thing is that now they want to change this corner of Manhattan and turn it into some artificial shit. The Department of Parks and Recreation wants to lay down turf so that hundreds of children that play softball and baseball can practice there in an organized way, but this will cause the displacement of skaters, like they are not as valuable like other physical activity or sport. The Department claims they need to prioritize “youth sports”, like skateboarding is just a hobby or some shit like that. Skaters from the city argue they shouldn’t be cast out from there, and they started to circulate a petition asking Tompkins Square Park to be left like it is. More than 30,000 people signed it last year.





Skaters and Community Standing Their Ground

It all began when the city announced the East River Park was going to be closed for all 2020 because of a $1.45 billion renovation, meaning that the parks ball players have to go somewhere else. In this case one of those places they are thinking about is the Tompkins Square Park. Skaters said that skating on artificial turf is not going to happen, and eventhough sidewalks and streets are legal to skate on, they are not safe because of traffic and related circumstances. For some, that park has an emotional connection with their life, like Steve Rodriguez, who has skated there all his life and also took his kids to skate there, they are emotionally connected to the place.

Adam Zhu, 22 years old, started the petition, arguing that the park is a multiuse park, which have been part of the communities personal history throughout the years and functioning very well as it is. Last year the Parks Departmen heard the petition from skateboarders but didn’t speak on the matter. Zhu said they can expect some protests if they don’t hear what they have to say about this change they want to apply, because they will not give up that easily and are ready to stand their ground. Let’s hope their voices are heared by the department and that the park stay as it is, keeping the communities energy and skateboarding culture intact.



Read also: Skateboarding in New York: From Brooklyn to Manhattan

Read also: Brujas Crew: A Female Skate Collective



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