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Monday, May 9, 2016

Frisco 5 End Hunger Strike; Supporters Turn City Hall into a Fortress Again

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2016 at 9:09 AM

click to enlarge The Frisco 5 last week. - JESSICA CHRISTIAN/SF EXAMINER
  • Jessica Christian/SF Examiner
  • The Frisco 5 last week.

After making worldwide news, the "Frisco 5" hunger strike ended on Saturday after 17 days without solid food for five people, who had hoped to force Mayor Ed Lee into meeting demands — including the removal of police Chief Greg Suhr — with the longest hunger strike in recent San Francisco history (possibly, ever).

Lee stood fast, and the strike ended on Saturday, the day after 33 supporters were arrested at City Hall following a rally and an occupation of the corridor outside Lee's office. (Video of sheriff's deputies tackling protesters, dragging some away, and shoving journalists has been making the international rounds.)

As the strikers — Sellassie Blackwell, Maria Gutierrez, Edwin Lindo, Ike Pinkston, and Ilyich Sato — recover at an area hospital, the "Frisco 500" — the hashtag given to their supporters — are back at it again this morning, demonstrating in front of City Hall, and calling for a "general strike."  

The Frisco 5 had ceased eating and started a vigil outside Mission police station on Valencia Street on April 21. Repeating the same demands made since the Dec. 2 shooting death of Mario Woods in the Bayview — the same ones that nearly brought Lee's inauguration ceremony in January to a standstill (with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Jerry Brown both in the house) — the decision to up the ante to a hunger strike came after police shot and killed Luis Gongora, a homeless man living in a tent near Shotwell Street, earlier in the month.

After a series of missteps — Lee visited their encampment but they refused to meet on Monday; on Tuesday, they marched to City Hall as planned to meet with Lee, who was at an afternoon community meeting (in Bayview, he claimed) — Lee eventually got through with a phone call, in which he pledged his support for Suhr, who in turn has promised a series of reforms in the police department (which has its hands full with yet another racist texting scandal).

So far, the strikers seem to be recovering — and have not lost any of their fire.

Meanwhile, the "Frisco 500" have pledged to picket City Hall all day. They started at 8:30 a.m., and have succeeded in turning the place of business/popular tourist attraction into a semi-fortified compound, with sheriff's deputies guarding the front door behind temporary fencing.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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