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People & Places

Best Rabble Rouser 


Ilyich Sato is giving San Franciscans a good name: "resistance." Already a fixture in the local music scene, where he's been dropping heat for two decades as the rapper Equipto, the son of a teacher and a trade unionist became a political figure this fall after a chance encounter with Mayor Ed Lee in a restaurant. That confrontation was the first of many challenges to Lee, who unfairly or not has become the scapegoat for the woes of gentrification as well as the personification of the establishment of a city that becomes more alien and less welcoming to its natives and working class with every passing day. Before becoming one of the "Frisco 5" hunger strikers — refusing to budge or consume anything more than starvation-level calories until Lee caves to demands including the removal of police Chief Greg Suhr, who they view as responsible for a culture that led to four fatal police shootings of young men of color — Sato led protesters into Chamber of Commerce events and Lee press conferences to make their voices heard and demands known. If there is an opposition movement in San Francisco today — and there is — this dude is in the middle of it and a vital force in making it happen. Equipto and the other four Frisco 5 members ended their strike after 17 days, but they do not appear to be done with the movement. "It's not trying to be a revolutionary," he explains on his Twitter feed. "Or a activist. Or political. It's about using our voice for what's right. Justice. That's all."

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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