Parents said they would sue over July’s draconian mass arrest of 117 people (83 of them minors) during this year’s Dolores Hill Bomb skateboarding meetup, and that lawsuit against the SFPD has now arrived.
SFist readers know that the annual guerrilla skateboarding event Dolores Hill Bomb will often get a little rowdy, but this past July’s event saw the mass arrest of 83 minors in addition to 32 people ages 18 and older. And yes, a Muni car was tagged, and one officer suffered a cut on the forehead. But it sure seemed heavy-handed that SFPD arrested 83 kids, some of whom they allegedly injured, over a matter where DA Brooke Jenkins dropped pretty much all of the charges anyway.
The city of San Francisco and its police chief have been sued over the crackdown at the Dolores Park Hill Bomb skating event, in which 117 mostly children and young people were arrested. https://t.co/2KC1JiHSxh— Mission Local (@MLNow) December 19, 2023
Some of the kids’ angry parents vowed to sue, and this has now come to pass. Mission Local reports that four of the arrested youngsters are named as the plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit over the Dolores Hill Bomb arrests, in a suit brought by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).
“These arrests and police conduct were unlawful and violated the youths’ constitutional rights,” Oakland-based PCJF senior counsel Rachel Lederman said in a Tuesday announcement. “Children and young adults were arrested, traumatized, and held for hours under inhumane conditions for merely participating in or happening to be near the youth skateboard event. They were kept waiting in the cold until the wee hours purely as an illegal dragnet to collect identifying information in a desperate attempt to justify the mass arrest.”
San Francisco now faces a new class action claiming civil rights violations took place when police arrested more than 100 children in July during the "Dolores Hill Bomb," a skateboarding event to celebrate the city's skateboarding culture and history. @CourthouseNews pic.twitter.com/0wOAHqb5m2— Natalie Hanson (@nhanson_reports) December 19, 2023
The full text of the 23-page lawsuit details how each of the four young plaintiffs was making seemingly innocent attempts to get home, but were swept up and detained by SFPD. And the lawsuit’s description of these children’s hours-long detention paints a disturbing picture of SFPD.
“Hours went by and Plaintiffs and other arrestees needed to urinate. Children implored the officers to allow them access to bathrooms but their requests were denied,” the lawsuit states. “Eventually, a sympathetic neighbor tossed a bucket down from her window. Some of the kids were able to urinate in the bucket or on the street. Others were forced to urinate in their pants, causing them shame, humiliation and embarrassment, and compounding their cold and discomfort.”
From yesterdays Dolores Hill bomb: What are the weapons in these pictures and video? Is it standard procedure to point them at close range at people/kids? (Vid found on IG. Last pic by me.)@LondonBreed @SFPD— Bernie McGinn (@bernie) July 9, 2023
cc: @seisinenfeoffin @DeanPreston @harveymilkclub @MLNow @jrivanob pic.twitter.com/Ct3osa44x4
The kids’ arrest and detainment are also called out. “After the children and young adults had been held on the street for at least two hours, the police began searching them, taking their phones, jewelry, belts and other property,” the suit says. “The police handcuffed them behind their backs with painful plastic zip ties.”
A few dozen folks are sitting on the ground at 17th Street. Police are waiting on “paddy wagons” to come. pic.twitter.com/7NESAtKvlo— Aldo Toledo (@aldot29) July 9, 2023
There are also some issues brought up about how the kids were hastily released — some later than 4 a.m., and others to parents who were not confirmed to be the kids’ legal guardians.
This is a class action lawsuit, which means the attorneys would likely want other affected kids and families to join in the lawsuit too. And yes they are asking for money, or as the lawsuit puts it, damages for “pain, suffering, anxiety, and/or emotional distress, deprivation of liberty, and loss of constitutional rights.” But they also want the kids to be declared “factually innocent of all charges for which they were arrested,” and for their police records and fingerprint records to be destroyed.
The lawsuit was just submitted Tuesday morning, there are no court dates set, and as of press time it has not even been served to the SF City Attorney's Office.
“Once we are served with the lawsuit,” City Attorney spokesperson Jen Kwart told Mission Local, “we will review the complaint and respond in court.”
Image: @bernie via Twitter