The Mission Cultural Center Celebrates San Francisco Lowrider Council’s 40th Anniversary

By Colton Webster

cwebster1963@gmail.com

 

Lowriders took over Mission Street from 24th to 26th Street this past Saturday for the 40th anniversary of the San Francisco Lowrider Council.

Tricked out bike on display at Mission District Cultural Center.
Photo by Onyx Hunter/The Guardsman
Mission Street Lowrider Event. Photo by Onyx Hunter/The Guardsman

The event revolved around a historical exhibit that was held inside the Mission Cultural Center. Featured in the exhibit was photography of classic lowriders from local car clubs and a photo wall that documented the San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) racism against young latinos in the Mission. 

Lowrider Council founder Roberto Hernandez was among those profiled and has been arrested for lowriding 113 times.

“We started lowriding back in the ‘70s, eventually the police started cracking down on us,” said Hernandez who founded the organization in 1981.

Hernandez recalled the efforts of the SFPD to stop lowriding on Mission Street by bringing out officers donning riot gear, “They created martial law, you could not drive or walk down Mission Street on Friday or Saturday night … you go having a good time, yet the police are harassing everybody and arresting people..”

In retaliation for the actions of the SFPD at the time Hernandez bought a vacant lot where he could organize car meetups legally, which after a victory in court became La Raza park, known today as Potrero Del Sol.

Lowriders from out of town came to Mission Street just for the occasion, some even as far as Los Angeles Hernandez said. San Leandro resident Jeremiah Filson crossed over the bridge to show off his Green 1952 Chevy Fleetline.

Filson said that the event, while still bolstering a good turnout, was not as hectic as the year prior, adding, “It was so packed with people you couldn’t even walk down the street.” 

Hernandez had the keys to the Mission Cultural Center during the SFPD’s installation of martial law in the Mission and would let people without cars into the center to avoid arrest and beatings from officers.

Mission District Cultural Center display of Photos and Lowrider memorabilia. Photo by Onyx “Eventually the police Hunter/The Guardsman

Regarding the Cultural Center, Hernandez said, “This is home for us from day one, so I felt it was appropriate to do the 40th anniversary exhibit here.”

San Francisco Lowrider Council’s next event is Cold Frisco Nights next month on Mission Street.

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