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Regional Interests

SF Lowrider Fest: Watch These Cars Bounce and get a Vaccine, Too

Fans of lowrider car culture celebrated with a purpose over the weekend — the 40th annual “King of the Streets” lowrider car show in Daly City’s Cow Palace also included a vaccination clinic.

“It’s about being creative, just like lowriders, we’re creative,” said San Francisco’s Lowrider Council founder Roberto Y. Hernández.

While the usual hydraulic-propelled car-hopping contest took place, the lowrider council also chipped in to offer cash incentives to help reach unvaccinated folks, especially in the Latino community. And alongside the usual arts and craft vendors, the San Francisco Lowrider Council also provided custom-made lowrider masks.

The lowrider council was initially founded in 1981 in an effort to push back against the racial profiling of young Latino men by the San Francisco Police Department. Hernández was arrested 113 times by San Francisco police under then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein, according to an event press release from the council.

Hernandez, along with others, filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of San Francisco, and forced the removal of some police officers. Over the years, the council has collaborated with social justice organizations such as the United Farm Workers, Black Lives Matter and others calling for justice for Alex Nieto.

At Saturday’s event, the focus was on vaccinations.

“Eventually, you’re going to need a vaccine to go to indoor events,” Hernández said. “So let’s just get everybody vaccinated so that you don’t feel deprived of not being able to participate in things that you’re used to participating in.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Aug. 12 that the city will soon require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter public indoor spaces including bars, restaurants and gyms. The new rule goes into effect Aug. 20.

“This is serious,” 58-year-old Marcus Gregory told KQED, at the lowrider festival. He heard about the event from his friend Ricky Ervin.

“I just want to … be on the safe side,” Gregory said. After his jab, he was up and headed toward the waiting area, where his friend, 59-year-old Ricky Ervin sat with a Band-Aid on this arm.

Ervin says he’s been spreading the word after hearing about the event on the news. Each of them received a $100 Target gift card and a free “King of the Streets” t-shirt for their participation.

Pascal García-Montpetit, who is the health coordinator of the Latino Task Force, said vaccination rates in San Francisco are high — 77% of SF residents have had at least one dose, but also noted the people coming to get their vaccines sometimes need a bit more encouragement.

“We do have to have these longer conversations with people,” he said. “With these extra incentives to help get them across that finish line.”

Catalina Cervantes Torres ended up getting COVID-19 before she decided to get vaccinated.

“I hadn’t planned on getting one [a vaccine] but a few months ago I got COVID and decided to do it,” she told KQED in Spanish. She came with her husband to admire the cars — and to get her shot.

“Vacúnate ya, [vaccinate now] low and slow,” Hernandez said. “Winner takes home bragging rights and is the king of the streets all year long.”

Copyright 2021 KQED