Los Angeles, CA: As the gun debate rages in the USA, one skateboard company decided to come up with a unique initiative to bring about change. Neil Carver, head of Carver Skateboards had worked with Longboarding for Peace on their initial program in the Middle East last summer.
This program brought Arab and Israeli children together to ride longboards in a number of cities in Israel and the Palestinian Territories ( See Concrete Wave Fall 2012 issue – Page 80). It has spawned programs in British Columbia with First Nations youth. It is also getting gangbangers in Houston to leave gangs for longboarding and an afterschool program is now rolling in Watts.
“I’ve seen what a positive force just riding a skateboard can be” explained Neil “so I resolved to take the initiative and try to have a positive effect a bit closer to home.”
Neil came up with the idea of taking guns off the streets by trading them for longboards. “I had heard there was a gun buyback program here in Los Angeles, so I set out to see how Carver could participate. After weeks of calling around, I found out that there was going to be a gun buyback on May 4th. Neil finally connected with right people at the LAPD and the mayor’s office and told them about the idea of trading guns for skateboards. “Even though it was all last-minute, they thought it was a great idea and were stoked to include us in the event.” The program tied in perfectly with the idea of not only getting the guns off the street, but also giving kids in the inner city something else to do. “We decided that we’d focus on using the boards for the assault weapons exchange, while they gave out $100 gift cards for handguns and rifles” explains Neil.
By the time Carver showed up at the San Pedro Harbor on May 4th, they had already collected hundreds of guns, and even a bunch of assault weapons. “I had never seen any of these kinds of weapons in person before, and here was a table piled high with them. We were proud to see an Uzi come in and one of our boards go out.” Even with only a dozen longboards, we were happy to be trading wood, aluminum and urethane for steel and bullets, and inciting play instead of violence.” By the end of the day they had taken 1,170 weapons had been taken off the streets, including 49 assault weapons.
Longboarding for Peace is a movement created by Concrete Wave Magazine. A full story is presented in the June issue of the magazine.
There are more peace projects in the works. Look for Longboarding for Peace booth at the Vans Warped Tour this summer.