GJPD Exposed

Skateboarding In Grand Junction Criminalized, Police Selectively Enforce

Posted in GJPD, Grand Junction, Harrassment, Skate Boarding by GJPD Exposed on November 18, 2009

The popularity of skating is on the rise, and it is the only form of transportation for many people. But is it even legal? The fog is clearing around the issue of skateboarding in Grand Junction, and, as the sun peaks through, repression rears its ugly head.

Skateboarding is pretty much illegal in Grand Junction. Almost everywhere. “Skateboarding prohibited” and “skateboarding in the street” are crimes. G.J. activists have seen a rise in their share of justice for skateboarding crimes over the past year. By rise, we mean 2 fold, plus, for some.

Last spring, a “skateboarding prohibited” ticket was issued to Richard Crespin on Main Street. It resulted in a $50 fine. Last June, multiple skating tickets were issued. Many resulted in confiscation of property (including skateboards), ten days in jail and almost $1100 in fines for skate crimes and trumped up charges of “disregarding police.” Repression is on the rise.
In early June, tickets were issued to three participants in G.J.’s local Critical Mass Community Bike/Skate Ride. The ‘criminals’ were charged with disregarding police and skating in the street. One arrestee never showed to court, Chris Dallas received ten days in jail suspended for one year and over $600 in fines, and Steve Kilcrease received ten days in jail and $1100 in fines. Their property was confiscated, including skateboards of all three arrestees, and a black flag (which was non present on the property report, let alone returned to its owner).

The court gave Chris and Steve the same consequences as resisting arrest for the charge of disregarding police (ten days, Steve’s $1000 fine). The arrestees, however, were compliant with the police. They provided the GJPD with the required identification information and used their right to remain silent.

Later in June, two G.J. activists again were charged with “skateboarding prohibited.” GJPD officers arrested Chris Dallas and Richard Crespin. Skates were confiscated and fines increased to $100.

Harassment of this particular group continued after the tickets were issued. Some of the group encountered the GJ Impact Team (officers on bikes), including Officers Kennedy (notoriously known harasser of the homeless) and Rojo. The officers approached the group (who were on bikes because their skates were taken), saying something like, “Look, if it isn’t our favorite skaters.”

Harassment did not cease in the court room for defendant Steve Kilcrease. The court proceeding was not recorded, as most are at the municipal level. Officers Rojo and Dole, arresting officers for Critical Mass, provided ample information on one of the arrestees past interactions with the GJPD. While on the stand, the police mentioned that Steve was wearing shoes in a past interaction with “fuck the police” writtenon them. Steve’s past criminal history was discussed. However the judge would not hear past behavior of the police toward the arrestees (stolen solidarity flag, harassment). The judge also told Steve that he was inciting a riot on Main Street, a clear falsity to a Critical Mass participant. Steve was not given the standard 24 hours to turn himself in to serve jail time because the judge didn’t think he would turn himself in. He never expected to go to jail, but was taken straight there after court. The judge was also frightened about his questionable use of the first amendment. Why were these GJ activists treated so poorly in our so-called Justice System?

The situation the GJPD created when skates were finally returned to their ‘owners’ is best described as a cluster-fuck. The clearly labeled skates were returned to the wrong people time and again. And the black flag was never returned.

The GJPD are targeting local skaters, especially skaters who are associated with alternative politics. Steve told TRP he has been skating since he was eight years old in Grand Junction, in the street or elsewhere, and he never had interactions with police until he started hanging out with folks from a collective house in town: enter alternative politics. There are multiple Critical Mass organizations in town, but this is the only one that has been targeted. “It comes down to… associations,” said Chris. Anyone who looks differently or involves themselves with alternative politics, or anyone who asserts their rights when dealing with the GJPD are targeted groups.

What should you do if you are charged with skating? Well, plead not guilty, demand a jury trial, and do not quit skating. “[The arrest] slowed me down, but it didn’t stop me,” said Chris reassuringly. Steve said, “It just seems like such a small thing to slow you down from doing something that you love, or that you need to do to get around.” So, you can attend City Council meetings to express your disgust with the criminalization of skating and the targeted arrests by the GJPD. Write letters, tell your friends, and plead not guilty. Steve’s advice is, “Skate or die!”•