By a 12-4 vote, City Council passed a bill Thursday that would establish a $1,000 fine for skateboarders, bikers, and others who vandalize and damage public art and war memorials. Because a judge could hand out a 30-day jail sentence upon a third offense, the bill drew opposition from the skating community and from some Council members who thought the punishment was too severe.
Skaters who spoke against the bill at an earlier Council session managed to get the measure tabled then. A group of skateboarders later met with the sponsor, Councilman David Oh, who agreed to amendments that lessened the penalties. On Thursday, some of the skaters - still opposing the bill - returned to Council. This time, a group of veterans also spoke out, supporting the bill and questioning how a skateboarder could damage the "sacred ground" of the city's war memorials.
Council members Jannie L. Blackwell, Kenyatta Johnson, Cindy Bass, and W. Wilson Goode Jr. voted against the bill. Councilman James F. Kenney said he was conflicted about the bill and wanted to abstain. When he was told he could not, Kenney simply left the chamber when the vote was taken. - Troy Graham