Broadway Bomb Skateboarders Face Off With Police
MANHATTAN — Police and skateboarders clashed in the city Saturday as more than a hundred riders took part in an annual race in which skaters attempt to "bomb" down 8 miles of Broadway.
The kick-off, which starts at noon every year at 116th Street and Broadway, is where hordes of skaters meet up, but many were sidetracked at police barricades set up along the length of Broadway this year in an effort to curtail the illegal race, according to accounts and photos on Twitter.
The NYPD arrested or issued summonses to 38 participants, according to a spokeswoman for the department, who said "there were more summonses than arrests" but she did not have an exact number. No permits were issued for the large-scale gathering.
Nearing Columbus Circle, police halted and took several riders into custody, according to witnesses and online accounts.
In one YouTube video, a rider with a video camera, whose handle is Thomas Pagut, asks police what is going on during a mass arrest he said was at West 60th Street and Broadway. "What's this net for?" he says to police.
"What are these people getting arrested for? Skating? In the street?" he asks an officer, who responds, "Yes."
Pagut later says in the video that he left his skateboard two blocks away from the police, so he could shoot footage.
An off-camera skater asks an officer, "Can I skate in the street tomorrow? Is that all right?"
A woman Pagut interviews says her boyfriend was arrested while walking in the street carrying a skateboard. "It's legal. It's completely legal," says Pagut to passersby.
Janelle Sinclair, 18, and Juan Calderon, 19, who were hanging out in Columbus Circle following the arrests, said they saw police stun one rider with a Taser near the race's start, where officers were more spread out.
Sinclair said she saw the incident after officers tried to wrestle a skateboard away from the rider. The man was holding the skateboard in his arms, and cops told him to let go of it, but he refused, first to one officer, but then others arrived as backup.
"More cops came and were like 'Get him! Get him!'" said Sinclair. "He wouldn't let go of it. So more cops came and they Tased him." The NYPD said they had no information on the alleged incident.
Sinclair and Calderon said they were also worried a close friend had been arrested. "Other friends told us. They're like, 'Yo, Reese got arrested.'"
The event, which East Village resident Ian Nichols started as a "death race" in 2002 to promote longboarding, has morphed into a "free-for-all group skate," according to website Skate the East.
"It’s the usual Broadway Bomb race course down Broadway," noted the site. "Just keep bombing down Broadway till you hit the Charging Bull Statue then start heading over to the BBQ."
The Manhattan District Attorney's office said it was unable to confirm how many of the arrested skaters were arraigned without names or arrest numbers to refer to.
In 2012, the New York State Supreme Court issued a restraining order on the event to prevent it from happening after permits weren't issued, but more than two dozen riders skated the course anyway Oct. 20 in protest of the ban. This year's race was run entirely without permits.