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Fight at skate park didn't halt planned events

Aug 29, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The regular "Friday Night Lights" skateboarding events went on as scheduled at Riverton City Park despite a recent incident that left organizers and park users shaken.

Central Wyoming Skateboarding Association co-chairman Matt Wright posted a message online Wednesday indicating that the weekly events would be postponed because of a fight Sunday, Aug. 20, at City Park that interrupted recreational activities there.

"It was more violent than your regular scuffle," he wrote, "and some of those involved ran over to the skate park."

Despite a quick response by local police, Wright said young skateboarders were "a little shaken" by the incident, and he decided to put a hold on future events until the situation could be addressed.

"It's my choice to keep the lights off for a few weeks for the safety of the kids," he wrote. "I want to work with the police department and get a plan in place."

Lights on

The collaboration apparently didn't take as long to organize as he had anticipated: By Thursday afternoon Wright had spoken with the Riverton Police Department and arranged for an extra patrol during Friday's event.

RPD Capt. Todd Byerly said officers patrol the area regularly, but they made sure to provide an additional police presence during last week's Friday Night Lights.

He applauded Wright's commitment to safety at the park.

"You've got to really be proud of the skateboard association to take that on," Byerly said. "It's not just the police policing the park - it's other people too."

Byerly also addressed rumors that the incident involved gang activity.

"There was nothing to indicate it was any type of gang association," Byerly said. "It's nothing outside the norm of what City Park sees. ... There's nothing to be worried about. We're down in that area a ton, and we know the population of the park that's normally in the park.

"You can tell when people are in the park enjoying the park and when people are in the park and there's going to be a problem."

Wright indicated Sunday's incident was the first issue his group has experienced this year at City Park, and he noted that it took place during "the abnormally crazy eclipse weekend."

Speaking with The Ranger, he said he didn't think the people involved in the incident were specifically targeting the skate park.

He also noted that those involved - many of whom looked relatively young - didn't seem to have skateboards or bikes and weren't part of the usual skate park crowd.

Wright said the incident represented a good learning experience for his group, and he encouraged more parents and other community members to volunteer on Friday nights.

"(The) more adults the better," he wrote online Friday. "It is smart for precautions to be taken, as always, but let's work together and keep having fun."

He anticipates continuing the Friday Night Lights events until the end of November.

- Staff writer Alejandra Silva

contributed to this report.

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2017-10-17

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