The actions of Alan Bernstein, along with an overzealous police officer, have once again brought the question of why kids are being harassed for skateboarding to the fore, even though the City Council and papers have made it clear that it is, indeed, “not illegal.”
On Oct. 20, just before 6 p.m., local award-winning teen skaters were carefully and lawfully making their way down Bluebird Canyon when Alan Bernstein, who was getting out of his car, saw them and proceeded to take videos of these kids while telling them “You shouldn’t do this.”
Shortly after, a police officer followed the kids, who were in a car by now. We can all guess who made the call to the police. The officer followed the car from Bluebird Park all the way to the top of Crestview Drive.
The driver was not breaking the law, and the officer was obviously looking for an excuse to pull the driver over and lecture her about skateboarding. After the driver parked, the officer simply sat in his car behind her until she approached him to inquire why she was being followed.
The following exchange took place, which was documented on a cell phone:
Officer: “You better wear your shoulder strap the right way if you don’t want to get a ticket, with what you’re doing. Your driving better be perfect with what you’re doing.”
Driver: “What am I doing?”
Officer: “Oh, just guess.”
The officer then sped off. However, the situation was far from over. Later, the same officer would continue to follow the car, and eventually would stop two of the young skaters and lecture them about safety. Keep in mind, these youngsters were wearing full protective gear, including full-face helmets. They were not downhilling at the time, and the officer issued no citations. After this, unbelievably, the officer still continued to follow the kids once they were back in the car.
This is outrageous and unacceptable on all levels. These officers who are here to protect our children have no right to harass them without reason.
Skateboarding is not illegal for the time being, and until that day comes, the community and the police need to take responsibility when addressing this issue. The harassment needs to stop!
The only ones who seem to be acting like adults in this entire situation seem to be the youngsters on the boards. Skateboarding is a part of our community, and these kids are very talented and responsible as a whole.
Alan Bernstein, the police, and any others who continue to harass these kids are only alienating themselves, their reputations and their trust in the community of Laguna Beach.
Louis Lee Hernandez,