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Confusion At Skatepark Leads to Arrests

Distrust with Law Enforcement creates a worse situation

Tom Spurling

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The Lynch Family Skatepark, located in Cambridge Massachusetts, recently placed new lights surrounding the park so that skaters could enjoy night time activities. The previous hours for the park were from dusk to dawn, but with the new additions to the park the adjusted time schedule closes the park at 9:00 pm.

However, authorities say even though the lights had been installed and activated, night time skating was not allowed yet at the park.

On October 1st, at approximately 8:30, 27 year old Derek Hanlon and 24 year old Askia Burns saw the lights on in the park and were enjoying some night skating with friends for the first time at the Lynch Family Skatepark. But to their dismay, a Massachusetts State Trooper approached the night time skaters and asked them to vacate the premises.

After multiple attempts via p.a. system and face to face, the officer decided to detain the skaters for trespassing. As seen in the video below, here is where it gets ugly.

Now, it is easy to scream police brutality after seeing the video. The skaters believed they were right, and the officers believed they were doing their job.

The officer made a mistake by not properly conveying that the park was closed even though the lights were on. The skaters made the mistake of thinking you have a choice when an officer asks you to put your hands behind your back.

The narrative that people believe they do not have to listen to a law enforcement officer because they believe they are right is just wrong, and bigger issues are forming because of it.

In the video, the officer is asking for the Hanlon to put his hands behind his back, and the skater is not complying with his command. That is resisting arrest, no doubt about it. Just because someone believes they are right, even if they are, does not automatically give them power over an officer.

After a minute and a half on the video of the officer politely, and cordially asking for the detained Hanlon to place his hands behind his back with no cooperation, the officer throws Hanlon to the ground. It is 100% within his rights as an officer, alone, surrounded by angry and hostile adults, to use force to detain a suspect.

If the Hanlon had just placed his hands behind his back, the odds that the officer would have released him that night would have skyrocketed. But because he stood on the principal that he is right and screw you if you disagree, he spent the night in jail.

Hanlon stated to WHDH Boston that,”He told me to stop resisting, but I couldn’t move my arm because it was crushed under my body,”.

If you watch the video that is a false statement. While the officer is attempting to pull halons arm behind him, Hanlon is using his “crushed” arm to make a phone call. There was no attempt on Hanlons part to comply with officers and that is the reason the situation became out of control.

Was Hanlon correct in saying the park was open until 9:00? Not exactly. Yes the lights were installed to keep the park open until 9:00pm, but the Department of Conservation and Recreation (who runs the park) stated that the park would not stay open until signs had been posted of adjusted hours, which had not occurred as of October 1st.

Hanlon was wrong in his assumption, and took out his frustration on an officer doing his job. This is a perfect example of distrust between the police force and citizens escalating a minor trespassing issue into a national outcry of police brutality.

Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.

Tom is a student at Fisher College in Boston. Tom spends his time conquering video games and exploring his city of Boston. His favorite part of writing is the stories and hopes to tell them for years to come.

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