Heavy police presence thwarts skateboard race through midtown Manhattan

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 20, 2012 8:13 PM
Heavy police presence thwarts skateboard race through midtown Manhattan

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A heavy New York City police presence Saturday discouraged a group of hundreds of skateboarders from defying a court order that banned the annual race through midtown Manhattan known as the Broadway Bomb.

Many skateboarders were not deterred. At the race's planned finish line in Manhattan's downtown financial district, where there was a heavy police presence, many boarders said they had taken alternate routes downtown to avoid police stationed at intersections throughout midtown.

Late Thursday, city officials won a temporary restraining order that banned the 8-mile race from upper Manhattan to Wall Street along Broadway, one of Manhattan's busiest streets, because of safety concerns and permit requirements.

A Facebook page for the event listed nearly 2,000 participants as of Friday morning but later in the day organizers canceled the race. Hundreds of riders vowed online to ride anyway and uptown subway trains in Manhattan were filled on Saturday morning with boarders, many of whom said they had come to the city from other states.

"They might chase me but they ain't going to catch me," said Sean P. McCarthy, 43, a Pittsburgh tattoo shop owner who was holding a skateboard bearing an image of President George W. Bush.

At the race's official starting point in upper Manhattan, a dozen NYPD officers stood together near a digital sign that warned that skateboarders who defied the court order would face arrest.

Would-be participants milled around on the sidewalks, grumbling about the police but there were no visible confrontations.

An NYPD spokesman said there were no arrests. Saturday afternoon, the event's official Facebook page began to fill with comments praising the police's low-key response.

The Broadway Bash began in 2000 with just 14 racers zigzagging in and out of Manhattan traffic but the race, which city officials said is unsafe, grew to more than 1,000 in 2011. Information on arrests or injuries at previous races was not immediately available but city officials in court papers said that prior races had resulted in accidents.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Bill Trott)