Just before 5:30 Friday afternoon, the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation ranger approached a group of boarders and told them skating was not allowed at the park, officially named JFK Plaza, which is a popular tourist spot and a favorite for skating. According to police, the skateboarder told the ranger, "I ain't... leaving," before throwing a punch.
Video, captured by tourist Mariano Verrico of Essex Fells, N.J., and posted online, showed the ranger putting up his hands in defense and trying to reason with the skaters. The ranger's attacker can be seen kicking the ranger in the legs and head and then spitting on him.
Another skater filmed the incident while a third taunted the ranger.
The ranger "was just talking to them nicely," Verrico told CBS Philly. "The one kid who did the attack was saying something like 'I've been waiting for this moment' or something, so I don't know if something happened prior, but I don't think there was going to be any reasoning with them that day. He just wanted to do what he wanted to do and that was it."
"The other kid on the left side holding the skateboard just constantly was berating and just saying nasty things to the ranger as he is on the ground just defending himself," Verrico said. "He went as far as, you know, using slurs against the park ranger."
Detectives worked to identify the three young men, two of whom were clearly visible in the tape. Police said the ranger suffered minor injuries.
"Park rangers serve an important public purpose, helping visitors and residents in our terrific park system, and it's unfortunate that people engage in violence," said Mark McDonald, spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter. "And we certainly hope that our employee recovers quickly and that the criminal justice system deals with the individual who did this."