The controversial mass-arrest of 81 minors (and 32 adults) at the year's unsanctioned Dolores Park Hill Bomb has some parents alleging brutal treatment of teens, but SFPD and Mayor Breed are doubling down on the need for that heavy response.
When you decide to mass-arrest 81 minors, along with 32 people who were 18 or older, there are bound to be some questions about how your police department handled those youngsters' arrests, or how the teens were treated while in police custody. And those difficult questions were already being asked when Mission Local published its extensive Sunday morning report on Saturday night’s Dolores Park Hill Bomb event that resulted in 113 arrests by police using riot tactics and pointing weapons at a crowd that was overwhelmingly minors.
My son was one of the kids and he wasn’t even at the hillbomb . Wrong place and time and he is traumatized, he is a straight A 15 year and volunteeres at the tenderloin rec center . He was zip tied and arrested in jail until 3:30am , the cops never notified us and took his phone— L facts are facts (@its_me_my_2) July 9, 2023
Mission Local spoke to one 15-year-old who’d been arrested, and reported that “Girls hyperventilated” and “several peed their pants while being kept zip-tied on the bus, awaiting transfer to Mission Station.”
A tale of two events. Same girl, before and after the police showed up to make things safe.— Dimitry Yakoushkin ℹ️ (@decadimitry) July 10, 2023
In one photo you have a group of thugs violently taking over a park, in the other you've got some friendly skaters stopping everything so a little girl in a unicorn helmet can participate. pic.twitter.com/rxg3EeiyxR
On Tuesday, Mission Local has more follow-up on teens who were injured or wrongly arrested. That report details several children being hit with batons or bean bags shot from rifles, and has parents complaining that the wide net of the mass arrest captured children who were not involved with the event.
Line of riot police shutting down Dolores Hillbomb this year. Officers are walking with riot gear down Dolores Blvd., confronted by some skateboarders. pic.twitter.com/J1GWEGH63O— Aldo Toledo (@aldot29) July 9, 2023
One mother named Lisa tells Mission Local that she has screenshots proving her son was just passing through the event, and was merely on his way home on a scooter. “My son said that [the police] said, ‘Go that way, go this way,’ and pointed, but it was straight into the cops that were coming,” she told Mission Local. “It was complete entrapment.”
People are obviously wondering: Why haven't we seen this level of "boots on the ground" when it comes to combatting drug trafficking in San Francisco?https://t.co/uHX3ERTlKh— Josh Koehn (@Josh_Koehn) July 9, 2023
And yes, it is fair to wonder why teenagers skateboarding drew a paramilitary response that went far beyond the resources used to combat, say, drug trafficking in the Tenderloin.
The violence and chaos on our streets had nothing to do with skateboarding. Residents asked for police escorts to their front doors. MUNI trains were stopped and attacked by graffiti vandals. Fireworks, bottles, & smoke bombs were launched indiscriminately in the neighborhood. pic.twitter.com/0nLItyCzqg— San Francisco POA (@SanFranciscoPOA) July 10, 2023
The always-combative social media accounts of the police union, the SF Police Officers Association, posted a supercut of Saturday’s mayhem (and got some shit for using reporters’ content without permission). That video does detail an officer’s face being lacerated at the :45 mark, and a Chronicle report confirms, with the suspect likely a 15- or 16-year-old.
But those arrested seem to have taken far worse injuries. The Chronicle spoke with 32-year-old photographer Alessandra Nieto, who reportedly “suffered bruising on her arms and legs from being tackled by police.” And Mission Local adds several teens were lacerated by the zip ties used to cuff them.
This was an unpermitted and non-sanctioned event around Dolores Park where skateboarders and spectators took over city streets and caused property damage. 32 adults and 81 juveniles were arrested for inciting a riot amongst other charges. ➡️ https://t.co/9tXsjzY8pc pic.twitter.com/4lrVYFz6BI— San Francisco Police (@SFPD) July 9, 2023
Mayor London Breed issued a statement Monday, saying, “People assaulted police officers, set fires, and vandalized property, including Muni vehicles. No one at this event was arrested for skateboarding.”
An SFPD press release described the incident as a “Mission District Riot,” language they have not used to describe the event in the past. That release also adds that “As crowds moved out of the park at approximately 7:35 p.m. there were reports of gunshots at 18th and Church streets near an occupied MUNI light rail vehicle (LRV), which was unable to move due to the crowd blocking the street.”
Protesters at the Dolores Park Hill Bomb skateboarding event were seen vandalizing Muni bus and throwing lit fireworks at police officers. Police arrested 30 adults and cited 80 teens. And now, the protesters want an investigation. https://t.co/54DxJ2WgSv pic.twitter.com/jTobpUYAMQ— KTVU (@KTVU) July 10, 2023
SFPD chief Bill Scott insists that it was the laceration of the officer’s face that led to the escalation. "The helmets went on, and rightfully so," Scott told KPIX. "No officer is going to stand to protect the public without protective equipment while people were throwing bottles and whatever else they were doing and explosives. And they should not be expected to do that."
And one neighbor says his house had taken gunshot fire, according to KPIX. “There was three bullet holes that went through the front door of our building, and there was one bullet hole that went through our living room,” that Dolores Street resident said. Though KPIX also details that other homes were damaged by “BB holes,” so these may not have been full-on firearms. SFPD’s claim that “officers located and seized several firearms left at the scene” may or may not also be a reference to BB guns.
In years past, the Dolores Park Hill Bomb has usually been a one-day story in the media. This year’s aggressive tactics and large numbers of minors arrested ensure we’ll be talking about this one for a while, and it will likely be the poster boy example of San Francisco police use-of-force.
Image: @ki_tranada via Twitter