Baltimore County Homeowners Association Orders Removal of Children’s Basketball Hoops; parents suspect discrimination


Khasan Al-Mateen, 11, and Cooper Chasm, 13, met while cycling in their subdivision, Rockland Ridge, a gated community in Baltimore County. They quickly became friends after also discovering a mutual love for basketball.

Little did they know that their admiration for the hoops would spark a racial debate about alliances in their small community and grab the attention of Maryland President Adrienne A. Jones, who made this session of the General Assembly her priority. to create a more equitable culture in the state.

The boys play pickup games and organize shootouts on portable hoops in their aisles as they debate the best player in the NBA – Khasan loves Stephen Curry and Cooper, LeBron James. It served as a much-needed distraction and outlet during COVID, as restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus meant the two boys were spending a lot of time at home.

But the boys’ families say they were ordered to remove the hoops and one of them has been threatened with legal action. The Rockland Ridge Homeowners Association has said the hoops violate a statement in its pact that bans recreational equipment, and members have been told by their lawyer that they cannot make an exception. To allow the hoops, the statement would have to be formally amended, a process that would require approval from community owners.

The boys are crushed at losing one of their favorite hobbies, and their parents suspect their sons are discriminated against: Khasan is African American and Cooper is Korean American. It’s certainly reminiscent of the history of alliances and their use by residents of white neighborhoods to keep African Americans and other non-white people out. The Baltimore area was one of the first to adopt such tactics. Basketball hoops are also often the target of closings and closings due to old stereotypes that they cause trouble by drawing crowds of African Americans. Khasan and Cooper’s parents said they saw football and lacrosse nets in the neighborhood, sports dominated more by white players. I understand why they would be alarmed and protective of their sons.

Rockland Ridge Homeowners Association President and President Henry J. Suelau said “very categorically racial prejudice played no role” and the decision was made on the basis of historic precedent. . One portable hoop request was rejected by the HOA’s architectural review board in 2017 and another dropped in 2020 after a neighbor complained. Neither do people of color, he said. He is unaware of the existence of soccer and lacrosse nets and said that a swing was recently refused as a recreational structure. “I’m sorry they feel this,” he said of Khasan and Cooper’s parents. “I can assure you that was not the intention.”

Even though the intention was not there, this feeling was felt, albeit unhappy, by the boys and their families.

When President Jones learned that the debate was taking place at the Rockland Ridge complex, she was disturbed enough to demand legislation to address it. The problem may not be as big as police reform or racial inequality in public procurement, but subtle forms of potential racism always have an impact.

“All of these things mean that parents don’t want their children to grow up with all of these micro-attacks,” said Alexandra Hughes, Chief of Staff to the President. “These things have an impact on people… more than they might think.”

The legislation, House Bill 1347, was passed by the House, where it was submitted at the request of the speaker by Delegate Kumar P. Barve, a Democrat from Montgomery County and chairman of the Committee on the Environment and transports. This would “prohibit unreasonable limitations on the location and use of a portable basketball apparatus on property of which an individual owns or has the exclusive right to use.” He also enjoys key support in the Senate. Sense. William C. Smith Jr. and Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher, Montgomery County Democrats and the chairman and vice-chairman of the Court Procedures Committee, respectively, have both said they support the legislation, which is pending before their committee. Lawmakers played their own pickup game with the boys on Sunday. Mr Smith remembers his own ball game days growing up and said he didn’t want to see other children being denied the opportunity to play the game.

I hope the Senate will pass the law as well, not only for the children of Rockland Ridge, but in other neighborhoods where they are limited by rules and policies against the right to basic recreation on their own property. If it were up to me, I would let the kids play ball. If anything, the case shows the problems with the restrictive covenants. The association could also have handled the dispute better, perhaps by holding an emergency session to consider an amendment to change the rules, as the issue had caused such unrest in the neighborhood. At the very least, they should do frequent neighborhood scans to see if others are using soccer and lacrosse nets to make sure the rules are applied fairly.

The incident was a lesson in self-defense for Cooper and Khasan – and showed the bonds of friendship between the young boys. Cooper testified at the House hearing. Her mother Rose is an emergency room doctor who worked many hours during COVID. Shooting for a field goal was the perfect way for him to exercise safely.

“The only thing I never thought I would be taken away from during this pandemic was my portable basketball hoop,” he said.

Andrea K. McDaniels is the associate editor of the Sun editorial page. Please send her ideas to [email protected] His Twitter address is @ankwalker.

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