#Frisco5 Protesters Resume Fight at San Francisco City Hall - NBC Bay Area
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#Frisco5 Protesters Resume Fight at San Francisco City Hall

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    A small group people showed up in front of San Francisco City Hall Monday morning calling for the ouster of Police Chief Greg Suhr over what they say is a regime of police brutality. Mark Matthew reports. (Published Monday, May 9, 2016)

    A small group people showed up in front of San Francisco City Hall Monday morning calling for the ouster of Police Chief Greg Suhr over what they say is a regime of police brutality.

    Some of those protesters included white-coated University of California at San Francisco doctors and nurses. "We’ve witnessed these police murders and impunity for those murders and we think this is a public health crisis," said Josh Connor, a four-year UCSF medical student.

    He and his colleagues joined a larger movement of those who want political leaders to know they're not happy and they're not going away.

    "We expect the mayor to know we expect San Francisco to know that this is the way it is going to be from now on," Ben Back Sierra said.

    Organizers of the group known as Frisco 5 are asked supporters to stay home from work, school and stay out of corporate businesses and instead join them in a peaceful, silent protest.

    A crowd of less than a hundred people attended the protest.

    Benjamin Elliott and his wife brought their kids to City Hall to march before taking them to school.

    "Justice isn't an idea that just exists on its own, it's something we have to participate in and democracy is not a spectator sport," Elliott said.

    A spokesperson for the demonstrators said the goal is a city-wide strike and a shut down of big business.

    "The mayor only understands money, so we're going to go after the money," said Yayne Abeva, a protest spokeswoman.

    So far, protesters have not been able to get any unions, university students or any other large groups to sign on.

    "We don't have anything concrete right now, but we have some things planned for the future," Abeva said.

    In a statement through spokesman Albie Esparza, Suhr said he's saying put.

    "The chief will not step down or resign," Esparza said. "He is intending on staying in the department as the chief to see the implantation of the police reform he has been working on with the mayor's office" as well as the Department of Justice.

    As marchers circled City Hall, two preliminary reports on the police department were released. One of the reports came from the Department of Justice commending SFPD for reviewing its use-of-force policies.

    Mayor Ed Lee said he would ask the police commission to move on DOJ recommendations to set up a serious incidents review board and explore having the state or the DOJ perform criminal investigation into officer-involved shootings.

    The second report came from the blue-ribbon panel put together by District Attorney George Gascon, who has been critical of the police department and Suhr.

    The panel found the department lacked oversight and discipline. The San Francisco Police Officers Association responded, calling the panel's findings one sided and biased.

    Suhr on Monday said he is working on the DOJ recommendations with the police commission, as well as reforms already in progress. Suhr also said he respects the protesters and their commitment to reform.

    Meanwhile, the five hunger strikers -- Sellassie Blackwell, 39, Ilych Sato, 42, Edwin Lindo, 29, Ike Pinkston, 42, and Maria Cristina Gutierrez, 66 -- ended their hunger strike on Friday after having gone to the hospital.

    "They are going to be in the hospital for a few days as they reintroduce food into their system," organizer Yayne Abeba said of the five hunger strikers, who have become known as he 'Frisco 5.' "But they're in good spirits and they're ready to get healthy and move on to the next steps of this movement, which has grown from 'Frisco Five' to 'Frisco 500' now." 

    Since the hunger strike started, there have been a slew of demonstrations in San Francisco, notably one last Tuesday in which more than 400 people marched to the steps of city hall to demand Suhr's resignation.

    A protest on Friday at City Hall turned violent, with 33 protesters arrested, city hall damaged, and allegations that police mistreated members of the press. 

    Protesters allege that Suhr's handling of high-profile police shooting cases, notably those of Mario Woods and Alex Nieto, showed racial bias and prejudice within the department. Then, last month, a San Francisco police officer was caught sending text messages referring to African-Americans as "nigs" and Latinos as "beaners," bringing simmering tensions between the community and police to a boiling point. 

    Lee has said that he stands behind Suhr, who has refused to step down.

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