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Downtown Atlanta skateboarders rage against closing of favorite hangout

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“Black Blocks” at the corner of Baker Street and Piedmont Avenue has been cordoned off; a petition emerges

Atlanta’s skateboarding community is up in arms over the decision to skateboard-proof a longtime favorite hangout.

After more than 20 years of ollieing, kick-flipping, and grinding in peace in downtown, skateboarders were unceremoniously evicted Monday from an area known as "Black Blocks," according to perturbed skaters.

Located at the northwest corner of Piedmont Avenue and Baker Street, the area was cordoned off in preparation for the installation of anti-skateboarding measures, according to a petition started against the move.

The document elaborates that the site — known throughout the Southeast as a premier location for public skateboarding — is ideally suited for the community that it has served over the past two decades. In fact, it goes so far as to say that the skateboarders have actually deterred the overtaking of the plaza by "bums, drug addicts, vandals, and similar ilk."

Considering the location near Peachtree-Pine, above the interstate in a somewhat desolate area, the claim is believable.

The artwork, part of an entire series known as Folk Art Park, was constructed under the direction of the Corporation for Olympic Development in Atlanta (CODA) in 1996, according to Central Atlanta Progress. Devised as a means of making a large concrete overpass slightly less hideous, the art installation quickly attracted two types: skateboarders and the homeless.

Now, skateboarders — and presumably others who like the site — are signing a petition to be delivered to Jennifer Ball of Central Atlanta Progress and Patricia Kerlin, who was the architect who oversaw the project back in 1996, asking that the anti-skating measures not move forward.

With nearly 5,000 signatures in just two days, will the petition work?