Cops vs. Skaters: Video of Skater Arrest Leads to Investigation

"Skateboarders are discriminated against," Bernard said. "Police cannot wait to hand kids a $30-$300 ticket. … One of my missions is to meet with sheriffs' departments and the League of Cities, etc., to educate them about the sport."

Bernard said that IASC statistics count more than 20 million active skateboarders in the United States, which is more than the number of young people involved in Little League Baseball.

"Skateboarding is not a crime," Bernard said, "Well, I guess, unless you live in Arkansas."

Call, E-mail, Myspace

Hundred of skaters and concerned Internet users, especially teens, have been posting the video on blogs, MySpace and Facebook pages, calling the incident an example of "police brutality" and encouraging others to flood the Police Department with calls.

"Call, e-mail, myspace and demand that Joey NOT be paid for choking children," reads a post on the Facebook group devoted to the incident, "Call ALL numbers. Leave a msg on phone 3."

While McCormack, who was arrested by Williams but is not seen in the video, is pleased with the overwhelming response, he hastens to add that "excessive force" is probably a better term for what happened than "brutality."

"The posts might be a bit excessive," McCormack said.

McCormack also recognized that some viewers have responded to the video by supporting the officer, especially citizens of downtown Hot Springs who do not want to see skaters on their sidewalks. McCormack said he hopes that the majority of people who see the video, however, will side with the skaters. He had considered posting the full 10 minutes of the skating video but has since been advised by council to stop posting and save any further evidence for court.

Officer Support

In reports yesterday, witness Barbara Golden supported the officers.

"The kids most definitely were out of line," she told a reporter. "They should not have been skateboarding with that many people down here."

McCormack denies he and his friends were out of line. Responding to reports that the skaters provoked Williams before the video begins, McCormack maintained the innocence of every member of his group.

"It is absolutely impossible that we bothered him," McCormack told ABC News. "We were skating single file, and the cop came out of the store and grabbed the 13-year-old. The cop said that he yelled stop, and that we were resisting arrest."

McCormack is out on bail and is awaiting his July 10 court date. The minors involved are under house arrest. As for Williams, McCormack would like to see him fired.

"I don't think he should get paid vacation for chocking a 13-year-old girl," McCormack told ABC News. "If he is back on the street, I am afraid somebody could get hurt."

'Shows It Pretty Good'

The court of public opinion, however, at least in online communities, is already making its own judgments.

"We all have the evidence firsthand on YouTube," noted one video blogger identified as Hiei2k7.

Even Michael Bush, the mayor of Hot Springs, said that the video has been powerful in proliferating the story.

"Unfortunately, the video shows it pretty good," Bush said.

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