San Francisco

‘Frisco 5' End Hunger Strike, Protests to Continue Monday

Protests against San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr and police brutality will continue Monday, although the now-infamous hunger strike that five protesters started on April 21 has ended. 

Supporters of the hunger strikers, who have been in the hospital since Friday, are calling for a general strike in San Francisco. Organizers are asking supporters to stay home from work, school and stay out of corporate businesses and instead join them in a peaceful, silent protest outside city hall at 8 a.m. Monday. 

Meanwhile, the five hunger strikers -- Sellassie Blackwell, 39, Ilych Sato, 42, Edwin Lindo, 29, Ike Pinkston, 42, and Maria Cristina Gutierrez, 66 -- will stay in recovery. 

"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. 

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

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