By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A group of skateboarders has allegedly engaged in a harassment campaign targeting members of a San Luis Obispo youth roller derby league that has included throwing food; yelling obscenities, including racial slurs; offering drugs; and making threatening gestures with a taser.
SLOCO Junior Roller Derby, a nonprofit roller derby league for youth ages 4 to 17, says the harassment has increased over the last few weeks. The roller derby league detailed the harassment in a Facebook post on Monday.
“Over the past three weeks our team, young skaters, coaches and our board of directors, have been subject to increasing incidence of harassment from young boys and men from the skate park,” according to a derby Facebook post. “It started with throwing grapes and other bits of food at our skaters during practice, to offering drugs and threatening gestures with a taser.
“Until yesterday, when this group of skate boarders tore our posted signs and stormed the rink before we had finished our practice during our reserved rink time.
“These young people proceeded to yell and scream obscenities at our coaches when they were told they could not be on the rink during our practice time, or at all per posted rules that do not allow skateboarders in the rink at all because how expensive it is to resurface. They called our coaches the N word, the C word and even called our skaters who were with us whores. They refused to leave our space and we ended up calling the police.”
In response, the San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation Department announced Tuesday it has limited use of the Ken Hampian Roller Rink through Aug. 9 to only those who have registered permits. Drop-in basketball, too, will not be allowed at the roller rink through Aug. 9.
“Harassment and bullying of any kind is unacceptable,” The SLO Parks and Recreation Department said in a statement explaining it decision. “The SLO Skate Park, Ken Hampian Roller Rink and other parks are meant to be safe places where anyone can play or recreate and have a good time. We don’t want to have to do this, but it’s necessary to prevent unauthorized skating behaviors, maintain the rink and to keep everyone safe.”
In turn, the roller derby league said locking the skate rink is not a solution and only punishes those who want to roller skate, roller blade and play basketball.