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Police clashed with skaters at 'hill bomb' event in San Francisco

In this photo from 2022, hundreds of young people gather for the 'hill bomb' on Dolores Street and 20th Street in San Francisco.
Tayfun Coskun
/
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
In this photo from 2022, hundreds of young people gather for the 'hill bomb' on Dolores Street and 20th Street in San Francisco.

Officers with the San Francisco Police Department attempted to disperse hundreds of skateboarders and spectators alike on Saturday at an annual, unsanctioned skate event in San Francisco.

The event, known as the Dolores Hill Bomb, is an annual, albeit illegal, skate exhibition that draws large crowds to cheer on skaters brave enough to "bomb" down the steep streets adjacent to Mission Dolores Park at unforgiving speeds. In a press release issued Sunday, the SFPD described the incident as a riot in which 32 adults were arrested and 81 minors were cited for a slew of charges, including inciting a riot, unlawful assembly, violence against an officer and resisting arrest.

One officer had to be transported to the hospital for lacerations to his face after an altercation with the crowd, the SFPD said. Violence erupted when an officer attempted to detain a 16-year-old boy who spat in his face and then a 15-year-girl interfered, according to the press release. The crowd then allegedly attacked the officers with fireworks, smoke bombs, glass bottles and cans. The boy was also taken to the hospital to be treated for a non-life-threatening injury.

Several of the city's light rail cars and buses were stranded due to surrounding crowds and others were vandalized with passengers aboard. Some in the crowd launched fireworks resulting in small fires, the SFPD said, which had to be extinguished by the San Francisco Fire Department. At one point in the evening, gun shots were reported, and police said they escorted fearful residents to their homes.

Police said they tried multiple times to get people to leave through verbal announcements before the crowds were broken up by officers in riot gear.

"This dangerous and unlawful behavior put members of the public and our officers at risk of serious injury or worse," San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said. "This behavior will not be tolerated in our city and I thank our officers for taking action to hold those accountable who brazenly engaged in reckless and dangerous behavior and violated the law. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries."

In 2020, 23-year-old cyclist Andrew Sanders collided with a skateboarder during the event, Mission Local reported, and died after being transported to the hospital in critical condition.

But those who attended are sharing a different story, arguing the police were the ones out of line. Dozens of protestors gathered outside the SFPD Mission Station on Sunday to demand an investigation into handling of Saturday's crackdown, FOX KTVU 2 reported.

The Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, a San Francisco-based Democratic club, called the SFPD "excessive" and "disproportionate" in an Instagram post.

"Law enforcement agencies bear the responsibility of prioritizing de-escalation tactics and demonstrating unwavering respect for the rights and well-being of all individuals, especially when engaging with young people," the post reads.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.
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