Police clashed with dozens of skateboarders at Dolores Park on Tuesday evening in a confrontation that ended with rubber bullets being fired and at least three people in the hospital, according to witnesses at the scene.
One officer was injured by a skateboarder, an officer at the scene said. A public information officer confirmed on Twitter that one officer had been injured and two police cars vandalized, and that police had been “taking projectiles” from the crowd.
2 #SFPD patrol vehicles have been vandalized, with 1 officer injured and transported to the hospital.
— Ofc. Grace Gatpandan (@OfficerGrace) July 12, 2017
Some at the scene told Mission Local that police had used nonlethal projectiles to deter skaters, but this could not be independently confirmed.
— Jason Curtis (@howard_iv) July 12, 2017
One person at the scene, Joel Hamill, recorded video of a skateboarder who was sent flying over a police cruiser after colliding with a police officer who appears to have stretched out his arm:
— Joel Hamill (@j_oelhamill) July 12, 2017
Skateboarders at the scene said that two skateboarders were injured in the course of skating and were also transported to the hospital. At least three skaters said that Jake Phelps, the editor of Thrasher Magazine and a major skateboarding icon, was among those injured, but this could not be independently confirmed.
According to several people at the park, the group of skateboarders were participating in a “skate bombing contest,” an event in which skaters ride down the hill at Dolores Street, and later partake in a race for a cash prize. The San Francisco Entertainment Commission’s executive director told the San Francisco Chronicle that the event, which also took place last year at the same location, was not permitted.
While dozens of skateboarders rolled down the hill, and continued to do so after the confrontation with police, one skater at the scene said the race itself never happened.
“Cops came for obvious reasons,” said the skater, who gave his name as Pete P, referring to the dozens of people standing in the street and blocking traffic, and the fact that someone was injured. “Look at how dangerous it is. “
But as police presence increased, tensions rose – some in the crowd began chanting “fuck the police” and acted aggressively, said witnesses. At one point, a witness reported that a skateboarder ran into a parked police car and that the window of another police vehicle had been broken. Another person said a skater had “shoulder-checked” an officer, pushing him into the patrol car.
Danika Wood, a Mission resident who was walking her dog along Dolores Street between 18th and 20th streets around 7:30 p.m., said that she witnessed some of the confrontation, which began with “at least 20 skateboarders” skating down Dolores Street.
Many more skaters and pedestrians could be seen standing along the street and sidewalk watching the skateboarders ride up and down the hill.
After officers responding to the scene showed up and attempted to block off the street, said Wood, the situation escalated.
“At one point the crowd started getting pretty loud,” said Wood, who did not see the attack on the officer. After attempts to block off the street failed in dispersing the onlookers and mob of skaters, more police were called to the scene, she said.
With the crowd swelling, Wood said she heard a loud noise, and speculated that it was rubber bullets being shot to break up the crowd.
For their part, many of the skaters who remained on the scene after the incident were nonchalant about the event.
“We all play with little wooden toys and try to have fun,” said a skater named Bill Davis, when the topic of the police response came up.
By 9:30p.m., crowds remained at the park and spilled into the adjacent streets –some two dozens skateboards and several police officers remained.