Alleged assault occurs at location of former skate parkPolice were called to the former skate park location in the west end of Cloquet at 8:14 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16, by a complainant who stated he had been assaulted at the skate park earlier in the evening.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
An incident at the location of the former skateboard park on Market Street in the west end of Cloquet may result in charges of misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct.
According to a report filed in the incident, police were called to the former skate park location at 8:14 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16, by a complainant who stated he had been assaulted at the skate park earlier in the evening. Officers noted at that time that the complainant had red marks on his face and what appeared to be bruising under his eyes as well as to his abdomen, and scratches on his left forearm.
The complainant claimed he had driven to the skate park and an individual there approached his vehicle. The complainant admitted to police he had an Airsoft replica firearm, a replica firearm that fires plastic pellets, on the rear seat of his car. He said the person who approached him commented to him that he could not bring a gun into the skate park. He told police that the person then began assaulting him through the driver’s side window of his car, claiming he was punched at least 12 times by the assailant before he managed to exit his vehicle. He said he and the assailant scuffled until he put the assailant on the ground.
Officers responding to the complaint then spoke with six to eight individuals in the area of the skate park, all of whom said they did not witness the assault and did not know the person accused of assaulting the complainant. One did eventually tell police the defendant claimed he was afraid of being shot so he attacked the complainant in order to protect himself.
The person accused of committing the assault was not located at the time police responded to the complaint. He was subsequently identified and the matter was forwarded to the office of the city attorney for possible charges. At the time this issue of the Pine Journal went to press, the charges had been sent to the office of the Carlton County Court Administrator but had not yet been signed by the judge.
According to Assistant City Engineer Caleb Peterson, the city subsequently took down the skate board ramps and other equipment and hauled them back to the city shed, where they were later claimed by their owners.
The former skateboard park, located at Wentworth Park, was closed down by the city in 2007 because of negative activity and a reputation for skirmishes and police calls. Since that time, a group known as the Cloquet Skateboard Association was formed with an eye toward spearheading a fund raising drive to establish a new 8,000-square-foot skateboard park at Cloquet’s Athletic Park on 14th Street. The city of Cloquet agreed to help foot $100,000 of the estimated $250,000 price tag through the proposed half-cent sales tax if passed by voters next fall.
According to skateboarder Matt Anderson, 21, who has helped spearhead the fund-raising effort for the new park, some $3,000 has been raised thus far through personal efforts on behalf of the skateboarders. He said the group also found out recently that it is the recipient of a Youth in Philanthropy grant through the Northland Foundation, and they plan to apply for Tony Hawk and Legacy grants this summer. The group hopes to raise enough money for the construction of the new skate park in the summer of 2013.
In the meantime, however, Anderson said the group had various conversations with Peterson about setting up some of their personal skateboard ramps and equipment on the concrete surface of the former skate park.
“Based on a couple of conversations with him,” Anderson said, “he didn’t seem to have a problem with it.”
The park has attracted a fair amount of skateboard activity this spring since the equipment was set up, and Anderson said things had been going well up until the time of last week’s incident, which he called “an unfortunate event.” He said the core group of skateboarders had been keeping the park clean and trying to monitor the activity that goes on there to prevent the sort of reputation it had before, stating that they had even received compliments from neighborhood residents, particularly senior citizens who live near the park.
Anderson said the situation that developed at the park last week was “complicated,” indicating that the complainant was a non-skater who frequented the park and who no one knew well, and misunderstandings between him and some of the skateboarders “escalated to an altercation that spiraled downward until things got out of hand.”
Though Anderson did not personally witness the incident, he said he did speak to the others afterward and explained that incidents such as this were the reason the skateboard park “didn’t have the best image” and suggested things could have been handled better.
“We do all that we can to maintain our image,” said Anderson, “and we hope to be positive role models.”
Anderson said members of the skateboard association plan to attend the next meeting of the Cloquet Parks Board to discuss the situation. In the meantime, he stated that it would not be in the best interest for skateboarders to set their equipment up in the park anymore.
“I think it’s best that we don’t ruffle any feathers,” he said. “It was a privilege for us [to use the city property] and we were blessed to have been able to use that space for that period of time. We are going to try hard to prevent this from being a setback in our efforts to raise money for the new park.”