Vandalism at Poods Park sparks generosity, positive response

Vandalism at Poods Park sparks generosity, positive response
The plaque commemorating local skateboarder Ian “Poods” Barry is vandalized with black spray paint. The plaque has since been cleaned. Courtesy photo

ENCINITAS — When word spread through Encinitas’ skateboarding community that a plaque commemorating local endeared skateboarder Ian “Poods” Barry had been covered in black spray paint by an unknown vandal, the initial reaction was vitriolic.

But within a few hours, the anger was quickly replaced with gratitude and reaffirmation of the love of figure whose legacy still lives on through the foundation set up in his honor.

Barry’s father, John Barry, and several other people said that city crews cleaned the black spray paint off the plaque, which is affixed to a bench at the Encinitas Skate Plaza — which most know as Poods Park — within a day of the vandalism.

Additionally, several people were moved to donate to Rollin’ From the Heart, the nonprofit set up by the Barry family to serve underprivileged youth in Ian Barry’s honor.

“It’s basically been a reversal of what the initial reaction was to the whole thing,” John Barry said. “And that first reaction was exactly the opposite of how Ian would have reacted and how we feel that anyone should react.”

“This has turned into a positive, there has been more recognition for the park, the foundation, people have dropped off flowers at the park,” he continued. “A lot of young people might have handled it differently, but when you handle it like this, you turn negative into a positive.”

Logan Taylor, 23, was one of Ian Barry’s best friends and one of the first people to notice the defacement. Initially, he said, his reaction was shock, then anger.

“Everyone was pretty shocked honestly, because we don’t know anyone who didn’t like Poods,” he said about his friend, who received his nickname because of his curly, poodle-like hair. “He was tough as nails but wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

But within 24 hours of the incident, which occurred sometime on Sept. 21, the Encinitas Parks and Recreation staff had cleaned up to the plaque, and friends began to adorn the bench with flowers.

“Basically, the flame got re-lit,” Taylor said.

Thomas Barker, a local skateboarding advocate who played an influential role in the creation of the skate plaza, said he was amazed at how quickly the turnaround was on the cleanup, and credited the city for its speedy action.

“The city was really amazing, I reached out to a friend who works there around six, and the maintenance guys were there first thing in the morning, they took the plaque off, cleaned it and reinstalled it,” Barker said. “They went above and beyond getting something cleaned up.”

Barker said Facebook messages on the Encinitas Skate Plaza’s social media page initially were from friends looking to catch the vandals, but very quickly turned into messages of kindness and looking for ways to contribute to any cause that would honor Barry’s memory.

“Once we realized we weren’t going to catch the person, we turned it around into, ‘Support Rollin’ From the Heart,’” he said.

One of the things that the foundation does is host skateboarding clinics twice a month at the Monarch School, a San Diego school exclusively for homeless children. John Barry said the family is looking to expand the program, and the donations will help toward that goal.

“Everything that has happened was a fitting tribute to my son and what he stood for,” Barry said. “Love ultimately wins out, and he believed this.”

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