By Ryan Steinberg
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The public’s response to the Dolores Hill Bomb skateboarding event and arrests discussed at a July 29 public police accountability meeting was heated.
The commission’s key agenda item was to explain to the public the Dolores Hill Bomb and subsequent arrests, most of which will be dismissed, according to officials.
Dolores Hill Bomb is an annual, but unlawful, skate exhibition that draws large crowds to cheer on skaters brave enough to “bomb” down the steep streets adjacent to Mission Dolores Park at high speeds.
San Francisco Police Chief William Scott discussed conditions that led to the mass arrest, noting more than 80 officers were present at the Dolores Hill Bomb event, which resulted in 117 arrests including 83 juveniles and 34 adults.
Most of Chief Scott’s presentation regarded conditions he believes justified the arrests. Chief Scott showed footage of skateboarders wiping out on the hill, fireworks going off near police, and Muni trains being vandalized.
The police, he said, believed the event to be dangerous, and decided to prevent the event from happening in the interest of public safety. He said police attempted to block off the street with barricades and warned skateboarders that the event was prohibited.
These measures appeared to be largely ineffective, and no effort to warn the skateboarders was made prior to the event taking place. After the gathering was declared unlawful, the police notified the group to disperse.
The police played a dispersal order on a loudspeaker for an hour before encircling the group and arresting people. At this moment, one member of the public shouts, “Thanks for criminalizing our youth again.”
Community members had a wide variety of opinions. Some individuals took a law and order approach, commending the police for following what they believed to be the proper procedure.
Many Dolores Hill residents spoke at the commission, most taking the side of the police.
However, numerous parents of arrested youth were outraged at the incident. The complaints included detainees not being read their Miranda rights, not having a restroom, and parents/guardians not being notified of the arrests until early the next morning.
In addition, parents stated some of those arrested were innocent and had been caught up in the police web. Of the public comments critical of the police, many demanded dropping the charges, and removing fingerprints and mugshots of the individuals.