On Thursday, a handful of skaters climbed Twin Peaks — the second-highest hill in S.F., with a curvy street perfect for skating — and plunged, from its apex, down Market Street and then onward toward the Embarcadero. It was part of Bomb Hills 4 Black Lives, a mass shred to draw attention to racism within the skating community.
Inspired by global Black Lives Matter protests and recent callouts of racism in industries ranging from food to media, co-organizer Re N had the idea to hold a skaters roll, bringing the community together to “listen to black skaters and start pushing for change outside of skateboarding.” Upwards of 100 people rocketed down city streets en masse to the Embarcadero, carrying signs reading “Listen to black skaters,” “Abolish the police,” “Destroy racism,” and “Being black is not a crime” while Re N cheered them on through her megaphone.
“This is going to be a healing space, not a space of cool-guy bullshit elitist energy,” wrote Dominico, a Bay Area–based skater who helped organize the event and spread the word on Instagram, welcoming all levels of skaters to participate.
Na-Kel Smith, a 25-year-old L.A.-based skater, held an Instagram Live session this week detailing the racism he and countless other people of color have faced in the predominantly white skating industry. “Some of your favorite skate companies don’t give a fuck about the black man,” he says in the video.
“I want to see more black skaters be able to speak out like Na-Kel Smith did about the anti-blackness and racism in the amateur/professional communities,” Re N told Curbed. “Skateboarding has this anti-Establishment ‘peace, love, and unity’ image, but there’s also a very dark side when entire groups of people are shunned and disrespected within the sport.”
One week after Smith spoke out, Bomb Hills 4 Black Lives was born.
And San Francisco was the perfect place for it. It’s where skateboarding bible Thrasher was founded in 1981 and where Mark Gonzales became one of the most influential skaters after performing a wall-to-wall ollie at the Embarcadero, which helped turn the waterfront location into a worldwide skater destination — and San Francisco, according to GQ, into the “de facto skateboarding capital of North America.” This week’s protest down Twin Peaks paired nicely with the city’s critical-mass rally, which saw more than 1,000 cyclists ride together against police brutality. (San Francisco has a history of cyclists protesting going as far back as 1896.)
Yes, there are many other protests that you should know about — including ones happening in the near future — but how many are down a super-intense hill?
hundreds of skaters from all over the bay area are flying down twin peaks and through downtown SF at “bomb hills for black lives,” a demonstration that aims to bring awareness to the black lives matter movement & dispel anti-blackness in the skating community. story coming soon! pic.twitter.com/OzKNzryxxp— amanda bartlett (@byabartlett) June 11, 2020