Skateboarding While Black

By Ronald McKinley

While skateboarding home on a nice, warm summer afternoon, Ronald Weekley, Jr. was beaten and then arrested by LAPD. Not beaten and arrested; there is a difference. The charge was for skateboarding on the wrong side of the street, and resisting arrest. Weekley has a broken nose, fractured cheek, and a concussion.

Several cell phone cameras captured the incident on Saturday, August 18. All the videos were by women who lived in the area. They can be heard speaking to the police.

One woman can be heard saying, “hit him again for the camera” in an effort to stop the police from doing just that. Weekley was prone face down and handcuffed on the lawn in front of his home, with four well-fed cops on his back. One of the officers grabbed Weekley’s hair with his left hand and punched him in the face with his right. One woman said, “That was a bitch-ass move.” Meanwhile other officers, not involved in the beat-down, tried to stop the videoing. Later she said: “ I know this isn’t Orange County, we just want to make sure you don’t kill him.”

The call for documentation could be heard: “video, video, video, video.” There were several cell phones recording. The women were brave, they kept a dialogue going with the police the entire time Weekley was prone on the ground. They were not kind to the police. I would have not been so inclined myself.

The Violent Crime Task Force is whom we have to thank for this mess. I thought they were supposed to stop violent crime. So skateboarding on the wrong side of the street is a violent crime? I guess if you knock over someone’s latte…

At the Venice Neighborhood Council’s August 21 meeting, held at the Westminster Elementary School auditorium, Capt. Brian Johnson, the commander of the pacific division, and Alex Bustamante, the inspector general of the police commission, held a question and answer session in the public safety-LAPD report portion of the meeting. This report includes a monthly Venice crime report and updates on law enforcement issues in Venice.

Johnson spoke on policing constitutionally, a favorite theme of his. He did not know the status of the officers involved in the incident, they could still be on the street. Bustamante spoke about the job of the office of the inspector general, the Professional Standards Bureau quality control for the police department. He also answered questions.

A number of people at this meeting spoke on being humiliated by the LAPD. One woman spoke about five officers stopping her from returning to her home after shopping. One man spoke about his 4th of July celebration stopped by the police; he said they set up a command post in front of his house. This happened to me some years ago, after the police formed a skirmish line and cleared the whole beach, after a confrontation in the pavilion between the police and graffiti artists.

The August 28 community meeting concerning Weekley, who called himself “present-day Rodney King,” was an intense gathering attended by Johnson, Bustamante, and Mike Bonin from Rosendahl’s office. The policemen who were involved in Weekley’s arrest did not attend any of the meetings or rallies that took place.

Johnson pretended not to know there was racial profiling taking place under his watch. He spoke of Oakwood and was corrected by a woman in attendance, according to whom, “Oakwood is a park, but all of it is Venice. Separating Oakwood from Venice is a ploy to separate blacks from Venice.”

Venice is changing, and not for the better. Money has found Venice. The police answer to the moneyed. Walk down Rose Av. from the boardwalk to Lincoln Blvd. Slowly the people who make Venice, Venice are beaten down.

The place that perfected skateboarding is now making it a crime. I don’t skateboard. I did when I was a teenager; that is when we nailed skates to a board. This is what happens when you don’t vote. Someone who doesn’t know you decides your fate.

Weekley, Jr. was held for six hours before being treated for his injuries. He was told he had to sign a certain document before treatment. I could not find out what this document was.

Weekley, Sr. spoke of a legacy, where young people of all colors could enjoy Venice; where kids could walk, skate and play in their own community without fear.

Now we wait to see if the charges against Weekley, Jr. are dropped. We wait on the use of force report. This investigation could and probably will continue until sometime next year. Peace from the police and enough is enough.