Security Guard Suffers Permanent Brain Damage After Fight With Skater
Skateboarders are re-examining a culture of conflict with security guards in the wake of a tragic incident between a professional skater and a guard in San Francisco.
- By Haley Samsel
- Jul 29, 2019
The skateboarding world is grappling with a dangerous trend that has been promoted by some of its most famous athletes for years: the glorification of confrontations with security guards tasked with keeping skaters off their properties.
A violent fight between a guard and skateboarding crew in San Francisco has drawn attention to how skateboarders, and the media who cover them, have grown to despise security guards to the point of attacking them.
In November, a group of skaters arrived at a corporate plaza that has often been the scene of trick videos despite the plaza’s skating ban. Dan Jansen arrived to tell the skaters to leave and ended up in a tense confrontation with professional skater Jesse Vieira, The New York Times reported.
The fight escalated when Jansen threw a skater’s board into the road and ended with Jansen being pushed to the ground, giving him permanent brain damage and the inability to walk or recognize family members. Due to his injuries, part of Jansen’s skull and frontal lobe were removed in surgery.
Vieira pleaded not guilty to assault charges, claiming self defense. He awaits a second trial in September after a jury was deadlocked over the case in May, leading to a mistrial.
Jansen’s case stands out even amid a culture of regular altercations between guards and skaters. At the heart of these disputes is the sport’s transition from parks designated for skating to business and residential areas, where people practice and film tricks to post on social media.
Skate websites and Instagram accounts have also shared videos lauding skaters for taking on guards and claiming their right to use spaces for skating.
“I do hold those who glamorize confronting security — rather than just leaving the second we are asked, as 99 percent of skaters do — somewhat responsible for the behavior they depict and profit from,” Mackenzie Eisenhour, a former editor of the website Transworld Skateboarding, told the Times.
Many people in the skate world are speaking out against the negative rhetoric and actions they’ve seen against guards, who some describe as just doing their job.
“Treating those people [guards] with respect and walking away provides you with the opportunity to just feel better, feel good about yourself, but also you can most likely come back,” Josh Stewart, a skate filmmaker, told the Times.
Skaters who confront guards are still celebrated in certain circles, but Stewart and others said they would like the culture to “police” itself more. Eisenhour brought attention to Jansen’s condition in January with an Instagram post calling on his community to reject violence.
“As skateboarders, I/we have all been in this situation a million times over,” he wrote. “But never once did I think violence on our part would help in any way shape or form. Fighting is for kooks - a lose/lose proposition that ruins the spot for everyone, ruins skateboarding, let alone ruining this man’s life.”
Eisenhour added: “As a skateboarder, I cannot stay quiet on this type of thing. If you or your friends act this way on the daily, take a long hard look at all involved in this incident.”