SAN FRANCISCO — Among the thousands of people who gathered in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park near the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood for an unofficial celebration of all things marijuana Sunday, at least eight were arrested for felonies, a police spokeswoman said.
The informal gathering held annually on April 20, brought pot smokers and weed vendors together for the day in the area known as Hippie Hill on the eastern end of Golden Gate Park.
Shortly after 4:20 p.m., San Francisco police Officer Danielle Newman said that the crowds of marijuana smokers had just finished “their big smoke-off.”
San Francisco police officers were patrolling the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, Hippie Hill and Sharon Meadow areas Sunday issuing hundreds of advisements to citizens. Newman said officers issue advisements when they see a violation and instead of arresting or citing an individual, advise the person to obey the law.
Officers issued advisements for people for infractions such as carrying open containers of alcohol, Newman said.
Between eight and 10 people attending the event were arrested and are facing felony charges, however Newman did not disclose the nature of the arrests.
At the Golden Gate Park celebration in 2013, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said there were no reports of serious crime. Police squads remained at the event and in the surrounding neighborhoods Sunday evening. Newman anticipated that park visitors would remain in the Hippie Hill area until the park closed at 10 p.m.
This year streets surrounding the Hippie Hill and Haight Street areas were blocked off to traffic, largely due to a bad traffic jam on Stanyan Street in 2013. Traffic this year was pushed into surrounding neighborhoods such as Cole Valley and Lone Mountain.
Last year about 15,000 people attending the event left behind a mess that cost more than $10,000 to clean up, according to a city parks official.
San Francisco Recreation and Park Department spearheaded the cleanup following the event with the assistance of the Department of Public Works, Newman said.
Those participating in the marijuana celebration were asked to adhere to park rules and remember to “pack it in, pack it out.”