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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Increased security halts skateboard `grinding’

Students will have a difficult time “grinding” outside the International Monetary Fund after security was increased Friday, bank security officers said.

The bank added round-the-clock security on the corner of 19th and H streets to discourage a recent surge of skateboarding in the area, said Captain Brad Philips, shift supervisor of bank security.

Marble ledges constructed late last spring already show signs of age and edges look chipped and worn after constant abuse from metal skateboard trucks, Philips said.

“(Skateboarders) have caused a lot of damage,” Philips said.

Before Friday, skateboarders passed by the bank every hour, grinding the tools of their sport into new marble, Philips said.

He said skaters hung out on the 19th and H street corner and played games of cat-and-mouse with security officers. Officers used to leave their building post to tell skaters to exit the private property and would return only to find the skaters attacking the marble again, Philips said.

Junior Stephen Voss and sophomore Tim Foden skateboard regularly around campus. They said they use the bank’s marble terrain because it offers a good skating surface and the ledges provide good approach angles and height for ideal “grinding.”

The skaters admit they obey security officers’ request to leave, only to return minutes later.

“My desire to skate overrides any desire to obey what (security officers) are saying,” Voss said.

The skaters are aware of property damage they cause, Voss and Foden said, but D.C. lacks other alternatives, like public skateboard parks.

“It’s not like (the IMF) has a shortage of money,” Voss said.Since the bank added the 24-hour post, Philips said skateboarders have shied away from the 19th and H street corner.

Voss and Foden said they have skated in the area since Friday and did not notice any officers outside the building. But news of increased security raises concerns about skating in Foggy Bottom’s newest hot-spot, the skaters said.

“Security guards aren’t really a concern,” Voss said. “But if he’s always there, that definitely presents a dilemma.”

The new marble ledges provide GW with a spark some students have waited years to see. The smooth terrain features stairs and ledges challenging enough to draw some of the nation’s top skaters and brings a welcomed variety to the D.C. scene, Voss said.

“The ledges have revitalized the GW and D.C. skating scene,” Voss said. “Variety is key in skateboarding.”

Foden said he saw one of his childhood heroes, professional skater Cairo Foster, skating on the 20th and G corner of the bank ledges last year, before the 20th and H corner ledges were constructed. He said the new ledges provide “sick terrain” that could become a bigger focus for D.C. skating.

The skaters said they were surprised coming into GW that so few students skated around campus. The usual camaraderie associated with skating has been all but non-existent around Foggy Bottom, the skaters said.

“It’s a little disheartening not finding anyone who shared the interest,” Foden said. “A lot of GW students think it’s really immature to still be skating.”

Voss said he makes “runs” through D.C., always at night when security is looser, tagging along with other skaters, much like a pick-up basketball game. Though he skates with more GW students this year because of the bank’s popularity, Voss said GW has not fostered a “cohesiveness” between skaters typical of other schools.

While GW does not host a community of skaters like other universities, including Cornell and Boston universities, the area surrounding the Foggy Bottom campus offers some of the best skateboarding terrain in the country, the skaters said.

Freedom Plaza, located at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, draws the biggest crowd of D.C. skaters. The public park, known by skaters nationwide as Polaski Park, features a city block of smooth marble tile, ramps and sets of stairs.

This “mecca of skating” makes skaters weary because park police continually break up activity, looking to arrest any skaters and slap a $75 fine on them, Voss said.

But seasoned skaters know to duck into a nearby hotel parking lot to hide until it is safe to continue “grinding,” Foden said.

While security officers have interrupted their skating sessions, the skaters said they keep clean D.C. records. Voss said he has run from security guards many times while skating in D.C. but has never been caught.

An officer once grabbed Foden’s board in Polaski Park, but he said the officer returned it after Foden convinced him he was new to town.

GW skaters, though limited in numbers, remain dedicated to their sport with the inconveniences of park police and 24-hour protection of marble smooth enough to make any skater drool, the skaters said.

Increased bank security has made the corner of 19th and H “one of those places you have to be content with 15 minutes of skating,” but it will still draw a crowd, Foden said.

With no skateboard club and little contact with other GW skaters, Voss and Foden will continue to dodge authorities but said they wouldn’t mind a little more company.

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