San Francisco police warn skaters to stay away: "We don't intend to allow a hill bomb"

San Francisco police have a strong warning for anyone planning to attend the annual unpermitted skateboarding event known as the "hill bomb" in Dolores Park. It traditionally happens in early July, and word of the loosely organized event usually spreads on social media.

Officers are urging people to stay away from the unsanctioned event, after last year's hill bomb resulted in mass arrests and mayhem.

"The warning is please don't. We don't intend to allow a hill bomb. On social media we're seeing that some are putting out that it's been canceled. As far as we're concerned, it is canceled," SFPD Chief Bill Scott said Friday.

The hill bomb, which attracts skaters to ride down a steep part of Dolores Street between 18th and 21st Streets, has come with big crowds that can turn unruly and violent.
SFPD said officers will be heavily deployed this year.

Last year, there were clashes with police and mass arrests with as many as 81 minors and 32 adults taken into custody.

Muni vehicles were vandalized, costing tens of thousands in damage. The chief said the crowd also launched fireworks and other objects like bottles and rocks at officers.  

Critics called the police response excessive, and the department is now subject to a civil rights lawsuit, brought on by teens who said they were arrested without probable cause.

"If there are criminal violations of the law, vandalism, assaults or those types of things, or just reckless and dangerous behavior, we're prepared to take enforcement action," said Scott. 

The chief said barricades will be set up to keep the community safe and prevent injuries, which participants and bystanders have suffered in recent years. A cyclist was killed after colliding with a skater in 2020.

"I think if it's something that's important to the community, there's no way to stop it," said Lindsey Hom, who lives near Dolores Park. "I don't think that people will heed any warnings to not show up."

Dolores Park Cafe on the corner of 18th and Dolores said it was tagged with graffiti during last year's hill bomb.

"It happened after hours for us, but I happened to still be here, I was finishing up stuff, and I saw a big mob of kids and the police and it just kind of looked like a big protest," said general manager Emma Desopo. "It was definitely chaotic and a little scary."

At the SoMa West Skatepark nearby, some skaters told us the announced police presence will keep them from showing up Saturday.

San Francisco resident Jackson Moore said he bombed the hill a few times at last year's event. He said he did not participate in any illegal activities. 

"We were just trying to have fun and then the cops showed up and they blocked us off. I mean sure there were people there with fireworks setting that off - that's illegal - but it's a bunch of kids," Moore said. "And the cops arrested them, and that was wrong."

Chief Scott emphasized at a Friday press conference that they are not against skateboarders, and they're not looking to spoil their fun or any sort of confrontation. 

"What we don't want and can't have is a community that has been taken over - criminal activity, vandalism, assaults, assaults on officers, assaults on the public," Scott said. 

The department also took in feedback and criticism at a community meeting this past Monday. 

"By and large, the sentiment was that people who are affected by that, that live in the community, do not want the event to happen," Scott said.   

He added the department is open to working with organizers to plan and make sure the event is safe for all parties, but no one has come to the table to engage in any conversation with SFPD. The hill bomb has no known, identifiable organizers. 


SF city officials defend police response, mass arrests at Dolores Hill Bomb skateboarding event

SFPD are characterizing what they encountered at the annual skateboarding event as a "rowdy mob." City officials are defending the police response and mass arrests. Parents say some teens were unlawfully detained.