Venice Beach Protest April 22nd 2000
As soon as I caught wind of this event, I was down for the cause. I’m not a Venice local or anything, I just know a lot of skateboarding has gone down on the Venice boardwalk over the years. Besides that I live nearby, and there really aren’t any places to skate around Los Angeles (that are legal). The protest came about because of the lack of a real place to skateboard. There was a place known as the Pavilion where locals could ride, most often without any troubles from the cops, but it was far from an ideal situation.
Recently the city undertook a renovation plan for the Pavilion, along the Venice Boardwalk. The new design didn’t show any signs of being skater friendly. This caused locals to take initiative by organizing a protest, in an effort to generate an awareness of their situation. At the forefront of the movement is Ger-I Lewis, owner of Ground Swell surf and skate, whose quick actions may have helped save the day for skateboarding in Venice. He enlisted Heidi Lemmon, who heads up the Skatepark Association of the United States of America, an organization that provides free information to help skaters build skateparks. Together they organized the protest.
Early on the morning of Saturday April 22nd, the police roped off a small area for the protest to take place in. A bunch of signs were put up, and a PA system was brought in. Then a couple of street ramps and a rail were brought in from a nearby church, for everyone to skate. All the media types, like myself, were there a little early to lend support to the cause. The weather was nice, and as the day proceeded the crowds of on-lookers strolled by, many signed the petition to help get a skatepark. Some of the locals skated up a sweat for the crowds; everyone had a good time. Within a couple of hours, the protesters managed to collect just shy of 1000 signatures of support from skaters, and passers by.
The protest wrapped up fairly quickly, and the beach got back to normal. It seems that the effort paid off. The next day, the city had a meeting and the skatepark discussion went in to full swing. They have come up with a VENICE BEACH SKATEPARK PLAN. According to the latest reports from Heidi and Ger-I, the city is looking at designating a = an acre (21,000 sq. feet) for the park. They are already consulting with architects and park designers; things seem to have gotten going real quick. This is the best possible news for the moment, so lets let everybody smile for a while. There is still aways to go, but the demonstration has had a great effect so far.