In San Francisco, the last few months have availed violence against unarmed black and brown men at the hands of police at alarming rates. In response, a group of five people (dubbed the “Frisco Five”) had been on a hunger strike outside the police station at 19th and Valencia, demanding the firing of San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr.
On May 7th, the 16th day of the hunger strike, the entire Frisco Five were admitted to the hospital. In a show of solidarity, their supporters gathered at City Hall to demand that Mayor Ed Lee fire Chief Suhr. Protesters made it to Lee’s door and began to bang on it before police and members of the Sheriff’s Department set up a police line outside, containing the protesters to the lobby of City Hall. Working in shifts, protesters set themselves up in front of the doors of City Hall in order to ensure people had access to come and leave as they pleased.
Inside the lobby of City Hall there were multiple speakers discussing the recent police-related shootings. People were asked to state the names of those killed, the most recent of whom was Luis Gangora, who allegedly brandished a knife at police officers. Days after Gangora was shot, surveillance footage surfaced showing that the officers on-scene had shot him within a minute of exiting their vehicle. Another name mentioned was Mario Woods, a young black man shot and killed by San Francisco police in another widely circulated viral video. The footage shows Woods cowering against a wall before getting up and attempting to walk as gunfire rings out. An autopsy revealed he had been hit by 21 bullets. Protesters held up signs which read “Jail Killer Cops” beside pictures of the slain men. The pictures also included Alex Nieto, a San Francisco native who had been working towards a Criminal Justice degree before being shot and killed in 2014 by four officers who have now been cleared of all charges.
As the protest went on, police began forcing protesters out of the lobby and making arrests despite resistance. According to Hunger for Justice SF, a total of 33 protesters were arrested. Though a majority of the crowd dispersed shortly after the arrests were made, around 20 officers in riot gear remained at the steps of City Hall past midnight waiting for the last four protesters to leave.
Hunger for Justice SF planned an additional strike on Monday, May 9th which local San Franciscans were invited to attend. The open invitation was posted online and is reprinted below in full:
“We, the people, invite you to join us for an unprecedented historical moment: a general strike of San Francisco this Monday, May 9, 2016. In honor of the Frisco Five Hunger Strikers and against SFPD killings of our brothers, we urge you to strike from work and school and to boycott any corporate restaurant eating and purchasing.
The time is ripe, and your action is needed now. Because of the Mayor’s unwillingness to fire corrupt police chief Suhr, the Frisco Five have been forced to prolong their hunger strike and have now all been hospitalized. It is time for all of us to act with honor, courage, and sacrifice for those who no longer have a voice, like Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez Lopez, Mario Woods, and Luis Gongora Pat, all unlawfully killed by SFPD.”