Apology over skate park scrap

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 18:16 26/03/2012
NZskate.com

An ugly moment at an Auckland skate park has sparked much reaction.

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The man at the centre of a violent confrontation during a skateboarding competition yesterday has apologised over the incident and has spoken with police.


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"I shouldn't of done it, I know I shouldn't have done it," Craig Platt said.

A video taken at Auckland's newly-opened Victoria Park skate park shows Platt shoulder charging a young skateboarder to the ground and shoving a man in the neck when confronted about it.

Mayor Len Brown has said he is "shocked" by the video.

Platt, an artist from Herne Bay and an avid skateboarder himself, was a judge at the Skinny & Serenity National Grom Skate Comp and said he "snapped" after teenagers not competing in the event kept "crashing through the middle of it".

The 48-year-old was judging one age group event while under six year olds were "just rolling around just behind me".

"They (the teenagers) were cutting off people in the competition. One of them actually whacked into one of the little kids.

"I was getting confused who was in the comp and who wasn't and I was trying to score these kids... it (the skate park) was all closed off and they knew it."

Platt said he asked the teenagers to stop interfering on several occasions.

"When he came back again I just reacted because there was little kids behind me and I just lunged at him. I wasn't trying to punch him or anything. It was just a reaction."

Platt admitted he was "fuming" by the time he crashed into the teenager, but said the boy "got up, gave me a mouthful and just continued to do it".

He said event security then intervened.

Platt said he tried to apologise but "they just told me where to go".

Platt was then approached by Leighton Dyer who told him "the competition should be over" because of the incident.

"He came flying after me and was telling me I was beating up these kids and he was right in my face. That was the dumbest thing I did because I just grabbed him and shoved him away. That was an overreaction. I'd had enough. All these kids were rarked up again and were laughing."

Platt said the video showed him in a bad light.

"It doesn't show me how I am. I look big... I mean I keep fit. I can't help the way I look. I skate. I'm at the skate park all the time. I convince other dad's to take it up. I pick up injured kids."

Platt, who 11-year-old son competed in the competition, said he visited the police today to "explain the story to them" and "if I'm in trouble I'll face it".

Police are not investigating the incident.

Platt said he had received threatening emails and prank calls all day.

The  competition was aimed at under 16s and was sponsored by Serenity, the rehab centre run by convicted drug trafficker William Murdoch, the former partner of Auckland socialite Aja Rock.

According to an online post written by Dyer, organisers armed young skaters with spray cans to tag the park with the logos of the sponsors.

Brown also tweeted about the vandalism.

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"Very unimpressed by vandalism at Vic Park skate park & appalled by accusations of comp organisers handing out spray cans. Am investigating," he wrote on Twitter.

An Auckland Council spokesman said they were "concerned by reports of what happened yesterday and urgently investigating".

Organisers requested a gold coin donation to help someone pay for their rehabilitation costs.

Dyer said today that he "won't tolerate bullies".

"Every skateboarder in my position would have done the same."

He said the teenager who was pushed, a 13-year-old name Tyrone, was "shaken up" by the incident.

Art critic Hamish Keith was also unimpressed with the graffiti.

"The graffiti is an appalling piece of commercially sponsored vandalism - hope the organisers will be held to account," he tweeted to Brown.

Co-sponsor Skinny Mobile has distanced itself from the controversy saying they were "gutted" about the state of the park at the end of the event and had no idea it would happen.

The council spokesman said the event was permitted but required a health and safety plan.

Conditions included that no graffiti or artwork was left on the park and that the cost of repairs for any damage would be paid by the organiser.

According to a flier for the event, other sponsors included New World, Dick Smith and skateboarding labels such as Cheapskates and DC.

The Skinny & Serenity National Grom Skate Comp@ Vic Skate Park was billed as the country's first "Pro Junior under 16 skate comp", with $500 in cash for first prize and $5000 worth of other prizes.

It had classes for skaters as young as six.

On the page it said organisers would be collecting donations for a "scholarship to Serenity to help a person with an addiction who can't afford private therapy...Serenity have donated the cost of treatment $15,000.00."

An Auckland City police spokeswoman said she didn't believe they had attended the incident or received any complaints about it.

A police spokeswoman said no complaint had been made.

They received two calls about incidents at the park with the second being placed at 3pm by a man who claimed to have been assaulted by a security guard.

"The informant was advised to come to the police station and, at 3.04pm, he said he would."

There was no record of him arriving at or reporting to a police station to make a complaint of assault, however.

The earlier call, placed at around 2.25pm, was from a member of the public complaining about event representatives verbally abusing kids at the park and telling them to vacate the ramps.

A call-taker at the police communications centre advised the caller to contact the Auckland Council to determine whether the park was booked or not.

The police spokeswoman said the caller informed police they had already called the council and were told someone would be there but they never arrived.

"Police tried to phone the caller back at 2.30pm but the call went to voice-mail." 

* Comments on this story have now been closed.

- Stuff

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