Home » Our Litigation » San Francisco Police’s Illegal Arrest of Children and Youth at Skateboarding Event

San Francisco Police’s Illegal Arrest of Children and Youth at Skateboarding Event

Background

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund filed a civil rights claim in October 2023 against the City and County of San Francisco, challenging the illegal and unconstitutional arrest and detention of 113 young people – including 81 children and 32 young adults, most ages 18-19 – on July 8, 2023.

In December 2023, the PCJF filed a federal civil rights class lawsuit against San Francisco and police commanders on behalf of children and young adults arrested. In June 2024, a federal judge okayed the claims in the lawsuit, allowing the case to move forward.

During the yearly event known as the ‘Dolores Hill Bomb,’ community members gather to watch skateboarders down a hill in San Francisco. On July 8, 2023, members of San Francisco’s Police Department (SFPD) interrupted this year’s event and sealed off streets, proceeding to trap and arrest 113 young people several blocks away, without giving them any opportunity to disperse.

These unlawful arrests took place around sunset, subjecting the kids to cold temperatures as they were forced to sit outside on the pavement for hours as temperatures dropped. The children and teenagers, the majority of whom were people of color, were detained outdoors for many hours without blankets, food, water, or access to bathrooms.

One neighbor tossed a bucket out of her window for the children to use to urinate in after police officers denied them access to bathrooms. Some kids were forced to soil themselves, causing them shame, humiliation and embarrassment, and compounding their cold and discomfort. A boy vomited, and officers left him to be cared for by the other children on the street as best they could.

The police failed to notify parents that their kids had been arrested, and when parents began arriving where their children were being detained, refused to release them. Police took away phones and personal property from the kids and zip tied their hands behind their backs. The children were eventually taken to a nearby police station where they were fingerprinted and issued citations. The last child was released at 4:15 a.m., with SFPD failing to check the identification of the adults picking up the children.

SFPD violated its own policies for juvenile detention, which advises that officers avoid bringing juveniles to district stations and requires children have access to bathrooms, water and snacks, and that guardians and the Public Defender be notified when juveniles are in police custody.


The Fight to Drop Charges

Drop the charges

On August 11, 2023 the PCJF and an alliance of community organizations sent a letter to San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, demanding that the city drop all charges against the children and youth arrested at Dolores Park.

No charges against adults or children were ever filed related to the Hill Bomb event, but arrestees and their parents were told that their charges were under investigation for weeks, leaving them worried and uncertain about whether they would face criminal prosecution.


Dolores Park (San Francisco) – Civil Rights Tort Claim 2023

Dolores Park (San Francisco) – Federal Civil Rights Class Action Complaint 2023


PCJF News

PCJF Demands San Francisco Police Be Held Accountable for Attacking Children at Community Gathering and that All Charges Be Dropped


Press Coverage

Mission Local – Federal judge OKs most claims in Dolores Park hill bomb lawsuit, setting up class action battle

Mission Local – Parents of Dolores Park hill bomb teens file civil rights claim

Mission Local – SF drops most Dolores hill bomb cases — but will investigate further

KQUED – ‘A Step Backward’: SF Police Commission Questions Mass Arrest at Skateboarding Event

Mission Local – Parents, livid over SFPD arrests of teens at Dolores hill bomb, vow lawsuits

KQUED – You’re Detained as a Spectator at an Event Like the Dolores ‘Hill Bomb.’ What Are Your Legal Rights?

KTVU – Community outrage over SFPD response to skateboarding event continues to boil over


Hero Photo Credit: Joe Rivano Barros/Mission Local