Philadelphia City Council to vote on tough skateboarding bill

Graffiti isn’t the only tool that vandals have at their disposal. Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh says people are grinding down memorials and public art with skateboards.  

“Veterans and police officers, firefighters and artists, have spoken to me and others about the fact that they are very frustrated with those persons who, riding skateboards and other things, damage and continue to damage public artwork and memorials,” said Oh.  

Oh has introduced the bill on behalf of Mayor Michael Nutter. It would toughen penalties for skateboarding, biking or rollerblading on property where it’s clearly prohibited. People who intentionally deface public art or memorials could be fined $1,000 and, after a third time, serve 30 days in jail.  

City Council is set to vote on the bill Thursday.

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To Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, the proposed punishment doesn’t fit the crime. She is pleading with her fellow lawmakers to defeat the legislation.  

“It’s unconscionable. It’s just unbelievable,” Blackwell said. “It’s not the business of this Council to try to lock up its citizens for skateboarding.”

A group of skateboarders blasted an earlier version of the bill as too harsh. But Oh amended it, and now, he says, he has their support. He expects the bill to pass.

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