For the first time since Philadelphia City Council started including a public comment period two years ago, residents have organized to use it as a way of stopping a bill in its tracks.
The bill introduced by Councilman David Oh would increase the fines for defacing art or other memorials on public property to a maximum of $2,000 and 90 days in jail.
Oh says it’s a matter of respect for the artist and the memorial.
“Those places are many times not paid for or maintained with public dollars,” he said, adding that there is a history of skateboards damaging monuments and memorials in the city.
Since skateboarders are routinely blamed for grinding down and damaging monuments, they turned out in force.
“This bill’s penalty, simply put, is insane,” said Steve Miller, the owner of skateboard shop. “A $2,000 fine and 90 days imprisonment is an incredibly harsh and unfair punishment. It turns our kids into criminals.”
The bill has been put on council’s “suspension calendar.” Until it is revised, it will be in limbo and off limits for comment during the weekly City Council session.