Many Bristolians have been outraged by a video sent to Bristol Live which appeared to show skateboarders trying to destroy a bench near the Cenotaph.
But one skateboarder has written to us to say the video misrepresents skateboarders and does not tell the full story – and skateboarders are respectful of the space around Bristol’s war memorial and are often wrongly maligned.
Here’s what they said…
“There have been many articles skewed against us which have jumped the gun a little. They always seem to mention the war memorial, which we don’t ever touch out of respect. In fact, we are quite protective of it, always replacing the flowers and roses when they blow off.
“We also have some nice chats with veterans as they pass through who are pleased we can express the freedoms they fought for.
“Especially when they see girls skating with us or other people dancing or rollerbooting or whatever form of expression they choose.
“Always trying to link the activity in reports to the war memorial which is never actually part of what’s going on is consciously praying on the emotions of certain readers who are convinced we’re mindless vandals.
“I was shocked by the video, as were the rest of the skateboarding community , so we began posting and asking about it to try and find out what happened.
“After speaking to people who were there that we know and trust we got the real version of events – which make sense when you look at the video and realise the piece of metal they are pushing the bench against is not a bench leg and not part of the bench.
“They are trying to bend this other piece of metal back into shape, which I appreciate doesn’t look great and we have communicated this to our wider community.
“So the headline ‘skaters rip bench apart’ is not accurate. None of those benches have a leg in the middle which you can see if you go down there. I know it’s much easier to believe that skaters were just trashing something mindlessly – and possibly more appealing to some of the more narrow-minded readers to confirm their existing prejudices.
“Regarding the bench – you don’t know for sure it was removed by skateboarders. So why print something based on an assumption? Or by somebody who also cannot prove it was skateboarders?
“I appreciate that could be up for debate. Truth is that particular bench was found out of its original place a little while back. I remember first seeing it over a month ago on the wonk. Nobody really knows why or how but it could be anyone. We’ve communicated to people that it’s best to leave things like that alone. But it’s certainly not the case that skaters ripped it apart.
“Plenty of drunk folk roll through their every weekend. We’ve even stopped people urinating on the cenotaph before.
“There is also no proof that skateboarders are to blame for the other things mentioned in the article like graffiti. Lots of other groups use that space but we always get the blame.
“I know the skate community is by no means perfect. Us older folk are always trying to educate the kids to be respectful. And using the centre as a shared space is really great for many people who are often sidelined.
“I just ask that you be aware of the affect such articles have on our community – but of course the main responsibility lies with skateboardersand how they conduct themselves.”