Skater in the News:
Close Call for San Francisco Skaters
D Miles Jr. dressed as Flavor Flav at the Halloween Skate last night in San Francisco.
Photo: Harold Hingle
Halloween skaters in San Francisco made a stop last night at a crowded area where 10 revelers were later shot.
But sensing trouble, they left the area about 90 minutes before mayhem erupted.
The 25 costumed skaters left the Ferry Building on their annual Halloween Skate at about 8 p.m. Their destination was the Castro, site of an annual Halloween street party that attracts an estimated 200,000 revelers.
Leading the skaters was D. Miles Jr., head of the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association.
When the skaters reached the Castro, they stopped at the corner of Sanchez and Market, which was closed to traffic and filled with revelers.
Miles, dressed as the rapper Flavor Flav, addressed the throng using a microphone connected to his porta-party sound system.
"Do you want to have some fun," he asked the crowd.
The revelers shouted their approval, so Miles turned up the volume on his porta-party and played some tunes, including "Ghost Busters."
"It was great," Miles says. "We had like a thousand people dancing."
But then some other people came by. They were teenagers. None wore costumes. Rather than join in the festivities, they started to mock the dancers.
"You just knew that something bad was going to go down," Miles said. "They were looking for trouble."
At that point, Miles decided it was time to leave. "I got on my mic and said, 'Make some noise if you're having a great time tonight!' The crowd screamed. Then I said, "Skaters, Let's Go!"
Most of the skaters followed Miles back to the Ferry Building while a few continued on through the Castro.
At about 10:40 p.m., a fight erupted at the intersection where the skaters had stopped.
"It looks like it was a verbal dispute — younger folks threw a few things back and forth and then they pulled out their guns," San Francisco Gavin Newsom said in a radio interview.
Ten people were hit in the ensuing gunfire. No one was killed, though several were hospitalized, including a woman whose head was grazed by a bullet and may be bleeding internally.
As a result of the shooting, the mayor said the city needs to rethink the annual street party.
As for Miles, he says he wasn't all that surprised by the violence. "There's always been a level of chaos at this event, and it has gotten worse in the last five or six years."
Nonetheless, he says he'll be back next year.
"If you just quit doing things like this, pretty soon you aren't doing anything anymore," he said. "So, I'm going to keep doing it."
Copyright © 2006 by Robert Burnson