Black People : Integrated Neighborhood Dont Want Black Males Playing B-ball

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by dustyelbow, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. dustyelbow

    dustyelbow Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 25, 2005
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    Blacks say they've been bounced out
    Neighbours say the new net height is better for children, but players claim the decision was racially motivated, writes Joshua Errett.

    Joshua Errett
    The Ottawa Citizen

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    Sunday afternoon pick-up basketball games at St. Luke's Park are no more after the city lowered one of the hoops by about one metre last week.

    Neighbours who petitioned for the lowering of the hoop say it's to give smaller children a chance to use the outdoor court. But a group of predominantly black players who play in the Sunday games see it as a not-so-subtle hint: If you're a black adult male, don't play basketball here anymore.

    "It's the perfect ploy to get us out of the park," says Louis Monvoisin, a 12-year veteran of the Sunday games. "It's a completely underhanded move."

    On April 11, the city took the 10-foot regulation hoop down to seven feet, ruining what is widely regarded as Ottawa's premier outdoor court.

    The decision to lower the hoop came after one resident circulated a neighbourhood petition, saying the park was meant for children, and complaining that the players were using drugs, fighting and urinating in the park.

    Brodie Osome says those claims are unsubstantiated, and raises "red flags" among black players. "The racial make-up of the area has changed; some of that old mentality has not," says Mr. Osome, who lives in the Centretown neighbourhood.

    Tonya Bender, the unofficial spokeswoman for the 300-plus users of the court, says the lowering of the hoop was a "dirty, sneaky tactic ... It was completely out of the blue -- with no public consultation," says Ms. Bender.

    She says there is no evidence of any drug use or violence, and that the basketball players have a good relationship with the community and the Ottawa police. She points to a charity basketball game between the players and members of the Ottawa Police Service, attended by more than 600 people, including Mayor Bob Chiarelli.

    In light of their efforts to live in harmony with neighbours of the court, Ms. Bender says it's no wonder the players feel discriminated against.

    "The perception is that these guys are not wanted in this neighbourhood," she says. "And that's too bad because it was only one or two neighbours who wanted the hoop lowered."

    One of those neighbours, Louis Facchini, says lowering the hoop was the only option. "It was either we get S.W.A.T. in to get rid of the drinking and drug use, or we make a minor change," says Mr. Facchini, a resident of the neighbourhood for seven years. "And nobody objected at the city."

    He drafted and circulated the petition, eventually convincing Somerset Ward Councillor Diane Holmes to agree with the lowering of the hoop. Mr. Facchini says the park was originally intended for children, not the adults who play basketball on Sundays.

    Neither Ms. Holmes nor an official with the city could be reached for comment last night.

    Mr. Facchini says children and parents were scared of the constant drug use and fights in the park. "It was a move to discourage illegal behaviour, and make basketball for everyone," says Mr. Facchini, who points out that there is still one regulation hoop at the park.

    He adds that he is offended there is any suggestion that his petition was racially-motivated. "For the first time in seven years, children outnumbered the adults," Mr. Facchini notes after the hoop was lowered. "And that is the original spirit of the park."

    But according to 11-year-old basketball player Seamus Robertson-Patterson, the lowered basket is "stupid."

    "It's too easy," Seamus says. "I can jump and dunk. It's kind of boring." The 4-foot-7 elementary school student prefers to use the other end of the court, where there is still a regulation-height hoop.

    He is not the only neighbour who did not support the lowering of the hoop. "I liked seeing the court being used," says Darrell Hewie, who lives directly across from the court.

    Mr. Hewie says there was occasionally offensive language, but poses the question: "What do you expect when you live across from a park?"

    Although Mr. Hewie says he'd like to remain neutral in the argument, he refused to sign Mr. Facchini's petition. "Lowering the hoop was a way to tell the guys who come on Sundays not to come anymore," says Mr. Hewie.

    At the end of the day, basketball enthusiasts like Mark Lovello, a Sunday regular who now hits his head on the lowered rim, doesn't care about the politics around the court -- he just wants to play basketball this summer.

    "We need the hoop back. That's it," he says.

    The St. Luke's Basketball Community has organized a public meeting to discuss the hoop at Jack Purcell Community Centre Gymnasium, on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

    Lowered Hoop Kicks Up Basketball Brouhaha