Community outrage over SFPD response to skateboarding event continues to boil over

The community outrage over the San Francisco Police Department's response to an unsanctioned skateboarding event over the weekend continues. 

Community members packed a Police Commission meeting Wednesday. Police and Mayor London Breed maintain that safety was their main priority at the so-called Dolores Park ‘Hill Bomb’ event. 

But for those who lined up to speak out at the meeting, including several of the kids who were arrested on Saturday and some of their parents, they said police overstepped a line.

"Protect our young people!" was the rallying cry on the steps of City Hall, outside from where the meeting was held. More than 80 minors and 30 adults were arrested at the unofficial Mission District tradition. 

"We're calling the Police Commission to have an independent community lead investigation," said Rachel Lederman with Partnership Civil Justice Fund. 

Lederman is considering filing a lawsuit on behalf of those detained at the event.

City leaders, including Mayor Breed, defended the department's response this morning. She said officers took the necessary action to stop the dangerous event. 

"The police did what they felt they had to do, and I know there are people who are upset about that, but we have a responsibility to protect the public," Breed said. "Vandalism of property, and destruction of property and unlawful assembly, and some of the other things that lead to this type of behavior, are things that we definitely will not continue to tolerate." 

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Photos of vandalized Muni vehicles from the Dolores 'Hill Bomb' unsanctioned skateboarding event in San Francisco. (photo courtesy: SFMTA) 

Police said participants launched fireworks at officers, overran the neighborhood, cut an officer and vandalized Muni cars, causing more than $70,000 in damage. 

But dozens of parents, who lined up for public comment at the Police Commission meeting, said the department's response was overkill. 

"Where was the deescalation as everyone has said? I don't know why my child was arrested," said one parent who was not identified. 

"He sat on the ground until 1 a.m. in the morning. They took his phone. He wasn't allowed to call me. I didn't know where he was," said another concerned parent. 

Several minors arrested also addressed the Commission. 

"They never told us why we were being detained. They just told us to sit down and shut up," said an unidentified youth. 

"I sat there, as we yelled at the cops. They held a 12-year-old kid who was shivering in the cold because he was kept in the cold for five hours. They did nothing," said another teen. 

SFPD Chief Bill Scott, who so far has defended his officers' actions, kept his comments brief. 

"We understand the frustration. We understand the questions," Scott said. Next week SFPD will release video from the incident. The chief said they will provide a "detailed account of everything that happened." 

Several members of the Police Commission are already promising accountability.

"I’m embarrassed for our city. I am. I am embarrassed for the actions that this department took to criminalize an activity that is an outlet for young people," Commission member Jesus Yanez said. "It is clear to me that we need an internal affairs investigation." 

It is unclear when the internal investigation might begin, but at next week's Police Commission meeting, we'll likely learn more about what transpired last Saturday. 

Chief Scott promised to deliver a full report including body-camera footage at the meeting.