A Massachusetts State Police trooper arrested two skateboarders for trespassing at Lynch Family Skatepark in Cambridge Sunday night in an incident that has sparked outrage among local skateboarders and confusion about nighttime access to the park.
“A trooper was making a routine check of Lynch Skate Park in Cambridge, a DCR property, and observed numerous people still in the skate park well after dark, in violation of the park’s closing time,” according to State Police spokesman Dave Procopio. Procopio said the skatepark closes at dusk, and the trooper asked skaters to leave several times.
One of the people in the park, Derek Hanlon, 27, of Boston, continued to skate despite the requests to leave, Procopio said in a statement, “leaving the trooper no choice but to arrest him.”
Hanlon struggled with the trooper, avoiding arrest while about 30 other skateboarders gathered around them, Procopio said.
“The trooper then took necessary action to overcome the defendant’s resistance and make the arrest quickly before the situation escalated further,” Procopio said.
That “necessary action” angered skateboarders in the park, who in a video of Hanlon’s arrest posted to social media Sunday night are audibly upset as they watch the trooper grab Hanlon from behind, lift him into the air, and drop him on the ground facedown.
Another skater, Askia Burns, 24, of Boston, was also arrested. Burns went back into the skatepark “stating that he would continue skating as soon as police left,” Procopio said.
Armin Bachman, owner of Orchard Skateshop in Allston, said he has been in contact with some of the skaters who were at the park during the arrests and said Burns was just going back to pick up a book he had left there before leaving.
Throughout Hanlon’s arrest, he can be heard asking the trooper what he did wrong. At one point, Hanlon can also be heard telling the trooper, “Sir, I’m in a public place. This park is open until 9 . . . I donated money for these lights. I’m just skateboarding in a skatepark.”
Hanlon was referring to a new set of lights that was installed in the skatepark in September and turned on for the first time last week.
The lights turn off automatically at 9 p.m. every day, which is the unofficial closing time for the park, said Laura Jasinski, executive director of the Charles River Conservancy, which runs the skatepark with the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The trooper was asking skaters to leave around 8:26 p.m., which was after dusk, when the park officially closes, according to Procopio and DCR spokesman Troy Wall.
The trooper, who was identified in the video’s caption as “Officer Kamel,” arrested Hanlon with help from Cambridge police officers. Hanlon and Burns were both charged with trespassing and Hanlon was additionally charged with resisting arrest. Both skaters were released on $40 bail and are scheduled to be arraigned in Cambridge District Court.
“We need more safe, hassle-free places to skate,” Bachman said, adding that on Monday morning officials had installed a sign that said the park was open from dawn to dusk.
But Wall, the DCR spokesman, said in an e-mail that the agency is “in the process of fabricating and installing signs, which will reflect the updated hours of operations from dawn until 9:00 p.m. The new hours will go into effect once signs have been posted.”