found the article on skateboarders by Tanya Leet very interesting
[Newsfront, June 6]. Very much so, in that I was the project
architect a few years ago to restore the Soldiers and Sailors
Monument shown in the photograph. I get very disconcerted
when I see youth on skateboards entertaining themselves at
the expense of public monuments and spaces. They appear to
have no respect for these spaces and what memorials stand
for. It should be a crime for the damage they have done throughout
the city. For example, the new WWII Memorial wasn’t open more
than a day or two when they started to enter this wonderful
place to honor those who gave their lives to keep America
On the other hand, I really feel for these kids. We all were
kids at one time, living life without too many restrictions.
I think I made my own similar skateboard or scooter, with
a board, an orange crate and an old roller skate. What really
gets me is the city of Albany is refusing to build a skateboard
park for the kids. This is what kids want to do in 2002, so
why not provide a place for them? Not too long ago, while
I was visiting my son in Montrose, Co. (a town less than a
third the size of Albany), I got to see their brand new skateboard
It was beautiful, with graceful concrete ramps and curves
and all the kids having a great time. Fortunately, the same
day, a local newspaper did a feature on this skateboard facility.
I saved the paper and sent it to Mayor Jerry Jennings with
a note that this might be a good idea for the youth of the
city of Albany. I never heard a word about it. I guess it’s
not politically correct to provide a skateboard park for the
youth of our capital city.
just had a few comments after reading your cover story on
gangs [“A Thug’s Life,” May 30]. I got the sense that you
were trying to be partial in reporting about gang life in
our fair city, but in my eyes it came off sounding like you
were downplaying its significance and its seriousness. “Just
kids playing games?” I think not. “Violence normally only
directed at other gang members”? Unfortunately I can say that
is just not true.
My girlfriend and I were recently the victims of some “kids
just playing games” in our neighborhood, which happens to
be Center Square. We were walking from Lark Street to my apartment
on Chestnut Street. We started being followed by four African-American
youths about halfway down Jay Street. We didn’t think anything
of it at first, until they started to catch up to us. At this
point we not only noticed the blue bandanas that were hiding
their faces, but that they were taunting us. “Stop walking
whitey. Yo, white devil, I’m gonna fuck you up. . . . Turn
around before we rape your bitch.”
We turned on Dove Street, and as we approached Lancaster Street,
the four youths were right behind us, and it was obvious what
their intentions were. Our only thought was to head back toward
Lark, back to where there were people, cars, light and, hopefully,
police. We didn’t make it that far.
As soon as we turned up Lancaster, the four youths made their
move. Two grabbed me, put a gun to the back of my head, and
threw me face down on the pavement. At this point, I’m yelling
to my girlfriend to run. She didn’t make it too far. The other
two youths jumped out from behind a car and cut her off. One
pushed her into the other, who promptly spun her around and
punched her in the face, knocking her to the pavement.
Meanwhile, the two holding me down are slamming my head into
the street. They are saying to me, “Look at what my boys are
doing to your girl, look at it whitey: They’re gonna rape
her, and you can’t do shit about it.” They’re laughing at
me, taunting me. One man is sitting on her shoulders, holding
her down, smacking her in the face; the other is spreading
her legs, trying to rip off her pants. By the grace of God
she was able to get to her Mace. She Maced the men on top
of her, which led them to jump off and retreat down the block.
The two men holding me down let up and ran over to her, punching
at her again. At this point, she’s spraying Mace wildly, scared
for our lives, just hoping to keep them far enough away. I’m
barely conscious at this point, due to repeatedly having my
head slammed into the pavement. I come to and pull out my
cell phone. The two youths that are still trying to attack
see the phone and scream, “She’s got a weapon! he’s calling
5-0, run, run!” And that was the end of our incident.
All four youths were wearing their blue Crip-style bandanas
over their faces, and they weren’t trying to rob us. My wallet
was in my back pocket, and I was face down. If they wanted
it, it was theirs. This was about something totally different.
This was classic gang-style initiation. They set out to rape
a girl and make her boyfriend watch, and they almost succeeded,
one block from my front door. So don’t tell me, or the rest
of us for that matter, that the gang violence in this city
isn’t real, because it is. And no one is doing a goddamn thing
about it. I could have died that night, and my girlfriend
was very nearly raped.
Just kids playing games, right?
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