200 protesters join hunger strikers outside Mission Police Station; community meeting canceled

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Their calls were loud and clear outside the Mission Police Station on Valencia at 17th street Tuesday in San Francisco. Nearly 200 people gathered outside the police station in support of hunger strikers who have entered day six of their strike and who are calling on Mayor Ed Lee to fire Chief of Police Greg Suhr or would like to see him step down.

The protesters want to see improvements within the department and are angry about the series of recent fatal officer-involved shootings.

Eight people are participating in the hunger strike including local rapper, Equipto, whose legal name is Ilych Sato. They refuse to eat until changes are made. They’re also upset about the latest details released Tuesday about an ongoing texting scandal involving an officer who sent or exchanged racist, homophobic and inappropriate messages about the city’s homeless population.

A monthly community meeting, which is usually sparsely attended, was scheduled at the Mission Police Station, but was canceled when police refused the requests of the masses to hold the meeting outside the station.

“It’s really important for us to remember this is a victory for the black and brown community,” said Cristina Gutierrez, one of the community organizers involved in the protest.

“It’s been an amazing response of people that have been driving by, honking; giving us their love,” said Sellassie Blackwell of San Francisco.

Suhr was forced to go before cameras again on Tuesday to talk about the racist texts scandal, where he reiterated he had no plans to resign. He added that reforms are underway to address both issues facing the police force and that there are no plans to cite or arrest the protesters at this time.

“Should the situation deteriorate to where it’s a health situation, the officers will take action as appropriate, but right now it’s purely facilitation,” Suhr said.

Mayor Lee said he is concerned about the well-being of those on hunger strike and that they will be monitored to make sure things don’t get dangerous.

For now the strikers aren’t going anywhere. Gutierrez said unless Suhr is fired or resigns, she plans to die for this fight. “You know why, because life like this, for my children to live in fear, to grow up with the racism that we had to put up with all these years; it’s not worthwhile. Somebody has to say enough.”