Photo by Jackson May

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.

Some at the scene told Mission Local that police had used nonlethal projectiles to deter skaters, but this could not be independently confirmed.

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:

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.

Photo by Jackson May

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.

Photo by Mark Rabine
Photo by Jackson May
The scene at Dolores Park just before 9 p.m. Photo by Mark Rabine
Scene at Dolores Park at 9 p.m. Photo by Mark Rabine

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Mark Rabine has lived in the Mission for over 40 years. "What a long strange trip it's been." He has maintained our Covid tracker through most of the pandemic, taking some breaks with his search for the Mission's best fried-chicken sandwich and now its best noodles. When the Warriors make the playoffs, he writes up his take on the games.

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  1. How can you possibly in good conscience, call what you see in that video an “attack on police?” The cop clearly stops walking, and goes out of his way to “shoulder check” the skateboarder, not the other way around. The bias in this article is blatant and ridiculous. I think it’s hilarious that some people, including this author apparently, will use any example of police situations to defend said police even when they are obviously at fault, and to blame for multiple injuries. Can the author please explain to me how in the hell the skateboarder attacked the cop in any single one of these videos? I clearly need to be enlightened to see the brutality that i obviously missed.

    1. Quinn: I think there is some confusion. The video is not a attack on a police officer. It is a video of a different incident – a policeman putting his hand out as a skater comes down the hill. In another incident, police said that an officer was taken to the hospital after being attacked. We could not find any witnesses to that incident, which is what we write in the story.

  2. The clash against the police didn’t start until the officer stuck his arm out and knocked a 17 year old into his squad car. The video posted here is one angle, the other angle shows the two skaters make it past the car just fine until the officer walks into the way and hits the last skater. It broke the kids tibula, btw. That’s when the actual altercation started.

    I don’t understand the officer’s thought process here. Let me try to walk through it…”hey, these kids are being really dangerous, skating down this hill. One of them could get hurt. Huh, they aren’t listening to me, maybe I should hurt one of them.”

    Could you imagine being the person who called the police on them? “Hey, these kids are going to end up hurting someone or themselves…can you come down and maim one of them for me?” Or maybe it didn’t happen that way, but apparently that’s what the cop heard.

    1. Hey Scott: doo doo occurs. And yes, that board bro’ could have easily killed someone, especially himself. Why didn’t board dude try to stop? Let’s face it, by blocking the road the cruiser was clearly implying playtime was over, don’t you agree? By the way, Mission cops don’t forget and they sure don’t forgive. The Dolores Park Board Bros’ most certainly have made it tough for all boarders. I can assure you all boarders now have a BIG x on their backs.

    1. I don’t think we ever removed it, it’s still there (although it may have been moved around within the piece as updates were added). But thank you for sharing the link again!

  3. I saw that second video from top and yeah that’s eff up what the cop did, and not should pay for that. Having said that, I am also sick and tired of so many skaters running down on sidewalks in the Mission while people are walking to work and running errands during the day. Specially outside the Skateboard shop on 24th where they gather and practice upfront – people can’t even walk. Look, we gave them all these skating parks that cost a lot of money… and they have so many options on where to skate. Unfortunately a lot of these skaters have to respect for the general public and do as they please.

  4. SFPD’s aggressive use of police violence clotheslining a citizen should outrage the entire city. A formal investigation should be launched and this officer should be removed!

    1. I’ll defend the cops every single time, and especially on this one. What makes the board mob think that they can block off a major thoroughfare at the height of rush hour, not to mention inconvenience a whole lotta’ folks? If ever there was a group of inconsiderate little whelps, this was it. How many of the group even pay a utility bill, much less property taxes? How many of the injured were attended to on the taxpayers’ dime? How many are covered by health insurance, not to mention paying for it out of their own pocket? By the way: bump heads with Mission cops you lose EVERY SINGLE TIME. Now grow up and go back where you came from.

  5. I’m a skater myself but come on, this whole “fuck the police” mentality is just so damn childish and I’m kind of embarrassed by this behavior coming from skaters everywhere.
    I know skaters are “supposed to” hate cops but they are just doing their job, just move on to another hill maybe?

  6. We are taking back San Francisco from you dopey, yuppy, doosh nozzles, and we wipe our butts with your “permits”.

  7. Your article says: “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.”. Like Arnaud, in the comment above, I wonder if this was a “flash” event, or was it an event that the proper permits were pulled? Can we get more information on this? If it’s the former, then the boarders really don’t have room to complain that the police came and broke up their event, nor a leg to stand on in the destruction of police property, which of course, is all of our property. I hope more reporting will get deeper into this situation…

  8. I can’t the police broke up this event! I mean, I’m sure the organizers had permits for shutting down three blocks of Dolores Street on a Tuesday night, right?

    I grow weary of the general lack of respect for the rights of others in this world of entitled selfishness and excuse-making for jackassery.

    1. Permits? I don’t think so. I walked over to see what was going on after hearing all the sirens wailing by. I saw about 300 people mostly on the sidewalk by the park and a whole lotta SFPD and several guys (I only saw guys) with skateboards trying to use nb Dolores for a track. What could possibly go wrong with deciding to have a race the wrong way down Dolores in the evening?

      I stuck around for a while and watched. To be honest I thought the cops were pretty controlled considering one of them apparently got hit with a board early on. The ones I saw and heard were polite, professional and trying to keep the mood congenial. The mob on the other hand was really just that – a mob. They reminded me of being caught in one of one of those dirt-bike mobs that show up from time to time too. I didn’t get deep into the middle of it but this was way more agitated than your typical Dolores Park population.

      The police position seemed to be that you can’t just commandeer a city street when you want to. When I was there they seemed to be compromising on letting the skateboarders use the sidewalk. Was still pretty sketchy.

      The thing is if there had been some actual organization, perhaps getting an actual permit and blocking off the street so it’s safer and less of a hazard it could have been pretty cool. As it is it just felt like some group of guys (cause all I saw were guys) acting like entitled jerks.