SAN FRANCISCO -- On Sunday evening dozens protested the San Francisco police response to the Dolores Hill Bomb event that ended in mass arrests Saturday night.
Demonstrators began their march in Clarion Alley then walked across the street to the Mission District police station.
Police responded to the site of the yearly event which featuring skateboarders rolling down the steep hill on Dolores Street by the park early Saturday evening. At one point, police in riot gear with batons blocked intersections to shut down the unsanctioned event which resulted in the arrest of 32 adults and citations for 81 juveniles.
"Fireworks going off at the bottom, kids are getting on top of the Muni, people were smashing the windows of the bus I was on, people were tagging the bus I was on," said witness London Hodges, a San Francisco resident.
It was Hodges' first-ever Dolores Hill Bomb. He was able to skate down himself before things turned ugly.
"The cops came up there and some kids were trying to light fireworks and sh** off there and then three or four kids rushed the little barricade thing on the actual Dolores hill," he said. "But it was -- it was still fun at first and then it turned into a little bit of a riot."
San Francisco police in riot gear moved in as the crowd grew unruly and ignored calls to disperse. SFPD said residents told police they feared for their safety as fireworks were being set off, Muni buses vandalized and, at one point, a teen allegedly spat on a sergeant, who was assaulted as he tried to detain the suspect.
"We're outraged by the unprecedented -- one of the most violent responses -- we've seen the police conduct in San Francisco in recent memory in response to a bunch of teenagers. It's an annual tradition," said Jeffrey Kwong, president of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club.
"This dangerous and unlawful behavior put members of the public and our officers at risk of serious injury or worse. 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," said Chief Bill Scott in a press release.
The San Francisco police officers union said in a statement:
"I cannot remember a time in San Francisco when our residents needed police escorts to get to their front doors because of the chaos on our streets. Last night a mob of people forced three Muni light rail trains occupied with passengers to stop so they could vandalize the trains, they shot fireworks both at officers and indiscriminately in a dense residential neighborhood, threw bottles, smoke bombs and metal cans at officers and even cut one of our officer's face with a blade. This event wasn't about skateboarding or misguided youth. It was about a mob of juveniles and adults hell-bent on destruction and doing whatever they wanted, regardless of who they put at risk. Anyone who defends that behavior should be ashamed of themselves and take a hard look at their values for how individuals should act in society.
Let's recall why officers were deployed to the event. In years past, this unpermitted event resulted in severe injuries and even death. Our officers were there to try and facilitate a safe event. However, when the participants chose violence and destruction over fun and community, our limited number of officers were taken from protecting other neighborhoods to deal with this chaos. Yes, these rioters wasted valuable police resources with their actions."
-- Tracy McCray, President, SFPOA
Kevin Ortiz, co-president of the SF Latinx Democratic Club, was one of the organizers for Sunday's protest rally.
"To go after 113 people arrested, 81 of them who were minors ... it is immoral, it is wrong and there needs to be accountability for what happened there," he said.
Supervisor Rafael Mandelman's district includes Mission Dolores.
"I think the thing that generated this kind of response was not the skateboarding. It was all of the attached violence, mayhem, brought damage to property," he said.
And though Hodges witnessed a teen attacking his Muni bus driver and other violence, he felt that the police presence exacerbated the situation.
"The cops should have been way easier, not been so SWAT team-ish," he said.
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