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Skateboarders Fighting Crime Around Popular Skate Park
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - With school out and temperatures warming up, a popular skate park is keeping kids busy and out of trouble. However, some skateboarders say it's being overun by drugs and criminals.
To many skateboarders, the Riverview Skateboard Park is a safe haven, and for people like Austin Massa, it keeps both kids and adults busy and out of trouble. But lately, "Robberies, just the sketchy people hanging around there, drug addicts, drug dealers, homeless people," he says.
The skateboard and nearby playground is seeing its fair share of crime, leaving Massa worried about his safety.
"He just came up to me, took my phone and I was just like 'hey what are you doing?' And he pulled up the back of his shirt and he had a gun," Massa recalls.
Massa admits he's been robbed a couple of times, and just two weeks ago says two men who were later arrested robbed his friends at gunpoint. And then, there are drugs.
"Oh you can see it, smell it, find the crumpled up foil," he says.
Daniel Haney who also skates at the park thinks it needs more police presence and supervision.
"Just driving past for a second, that's not going to intimidate anybody, I mean that's going to say 'hey put your drugs away,'" says Haney, skateboarder and owner of Enjoy Skateboard Shop.
Haney says the park is in an isolated area, giving people a reason to get away with things they wouldn't elsewhere.
"Don't just treat it like a red-headed step child. Don't just let it out there to wither away , give to it," Haney says.
In the meantime, both are doing what they can to promote a positive environment for kids of all ages while staying cautious.
"I'll be trying to do a trick but at the corner of my eye, I'm looking at my car just to make sure no one's trying to break in it," says Massa.
The North Little Rock Police Department received a total of 51 reports of suspicious activity at the Riverview Skateboard Park so far this year. Police say they're doing what they can to deter crime there and encourage people to continue to make those calls.
Next weekend, skateboarders are organizing a cleanup effort at the park. They plan to give away free skateboards for those who come out and help.