Hunger strike protesters bring message to Mayor Lee

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Hundreds of protesters have gathered in front of San Francisco City Hall this afternoon in support of hunger strikers who are calling for Mayor Ed Lee to fire the city's police chief.

Five people dubbed the #Frisco5 have refrained from eating for 13 days in protest of recent police killings in San Francisco and are calling for the mayor to fire police Chief Greg Suhr.

Hundreds of their supporters marched from the Mission Police Station to City Hall this afternoon, pushing the five hunger strikers in wheelchairs, and then gathered in Civic Center Plaza at about 2:30 p.m. while chanting "Fire Chief Suhr!"



After the march from the Mission and their City Hall arrival, the protesters then entered City Hall and stood outside the door to the mayor's office, where they were told by a staffer that Lee was not inside. Around the same time, Lee posted a photo on Twitter from a meeting with merchants in the city's Bayview District in support of small businesses.

Some of the protesters then went into the Board of Supervisors Chambers to shout their demands. They called for the supervisors to make the mayor fire Suhr. "Now is the time to take action," one protester said at the meeting. "People are dying literally across the hall, they're withering away. Are you ready to do something?" Board president London Breed then called for a recess of the meeting while chanting continued. The protesters hoped to meet with the mayor following recent fatal shootings by police officers in San Francisco, including of Mario Woods by several officers in the Bayview District in December. Bystanders captured that shooting on video and it circulated widely on social media.

"Technology is taking over and we're tired of seeing it on video," said Felia Sala, a Vallejo resident attending today's protest.

Jose Hernandez, a Daly City resident also at the protest, questioned why police didn't use crisis negotiators in cases like Woods' before opening fire and said the shootings are an example of injustice in the city.

"San Francisco is the most beautiful city aesthetically, but not in a social or economic way," Hernandez said.

var p = new anv_pl_def();p.loadVideoWithKey("eyJtIjoiREVGQVVMVCIsInAiOiIwIiwidiI6ImV4cHJlc3NfMTQ2MjMzNjkzMzYyMyJ9");The march from the Mission District to City Hall blocked traffic on many major thoroughfares in the city this afternoon, including Mission Street, Market Street and Van Ness Avenue.

Police accompanied the protesters as they marched and were monitoring the rally in Civic Center Plaza this afternoon.

Supervisor David Campos has said that he doesn’t believe that firing Chief Suhr is the answer.

Gwen Woods, mother of Mario Woods who was shot and killed by SFPD last December, says she respects Campos, and interpreted that statement with the following reaction.

“I think his take on it, to internalize it, you can fire him, but it won’t change the mindset of the San Francisco P.D. It’s so embedded in that department; the racism, the sexism, the [homophobia]. You can take one man out of the picture, but we still have a whole force with this mindset. I think that’s what he was saying. We can fire him, but guess what? Will it change anything? I think the people were saying however, that firing him may be a faith gesture. You have to give us something. We lost Luis Gongora April 4th and I’ve said, right after my baby was executed, ‘Someone else is gonna die.’ And they did.”

Protesters planned to head to the Sherith Israel Temple, a synagogue in the Pacific Heights neighborhood, for a forum on police accountability involving Public Defender Jeff Adachi and Chief Suhr. The forum went sideways when the chief abruptly pulled out. The department blamed unspecified security concerns as to why Suhr left his panelists' chair empty. 

Chief Suhr is a native San Franciscan who worked his way up in the department over more than 30 years. He's said he has not intentions of quitting. 

Mission Station has an ambulance standing by in case any of the hunger strikers get into medical distress.