Cameron Kennon, a 15-year-old honors student at Montclair High, was arrested last Wednesday for criminal trespass for skateboarding in a bank parking lot on Valley Road. Kennon was handcuffed and taken to the Montclair Police station, where his mug shot was taken and he was put in a cell for about an hour before his mother arrived. His skateboard was confiscated. A friend of Cameron’s, 15, was also arrested.
Cameron’s arrest has inflamed his mother, Sabine, whose Watercooler post (registration required) shortly after the event has spawned dozens of replies. She’s now renewing a campaign to get a skateboard park in town, which died a NIMBY death two years ago.
“Police I understand are between a rock and a hard place,” said Sabine. “But there’s so much more going on for them to be harassing these kids for doing something harmless.”
Noting that the mother has threatened a lawsuit, Montclair Police Chief David Sabagh declined to comment except to say that the arrest was proper and lawful.
Cameron and his friends had been warned by police several weeks ago not to skateboard in the bank parking lot. For several days, his mother says, he was afraid to leave the house at all. But Sabine says there’s nowhere in town for the boys to skateboard legally — except as transportation from place to place, and then not on certain streets, like Bloomfield Ave and Church Street.
She likens it to a jogger being pulled over by police and having their sneakers confiscated. “That’s what it’s like to these kids. It’s like breathing.”
“Someone who jogs or dances has a passion. This is what these kids do. This is a passion for them,” Sabine said. “The town has managed to create spaces for people who play all kinds of sports.”
She says has already gotten support from Division East, the shop on Bloomfield Ave. that sells skateboards and skateboard fashions, and Steve Plofker, whose sons skateboard and who supported a park in the unsuccessful 2005 bid.
Cameron’s father, Thom, got 75 signatures supporting a skate park in an hour and a half at the Montclair Farmer’s Market. He half kiddingly talked of plans to make t-shirts that say, “Free the Montclair Two.”
In March, a 13-year-old skateboarder was hospitalized after being hit by a van in Montclair’s South End.