San Francisco’s longest hunger strikers were hospitalized as their supporters clashed with police at City Hall Friday night demanding the police chief resign. Police arrived in riot gear, pushing out the protesters, and arrested 25, according to ABC7.
The five hunger strikers, dubbed the Frisco Five, were on their sixteenth day without solid food and in wheelchairs when they are monitored for their deteriorating health. Their protest is the longest in the city’s history, according to SF Weekly.
"Now is the time to take action," said one of the protesters at a Board of Supervisors meeting. "People are dying literally across the hall, they're withering away. Are you ready to do something?" The supporters of the Frisco Five started a sit-in after they were told the mayor was not in the building.
The hunger strikers met with Mayor Ed Lee on the phone the same morning, but he refused to fire police chief Greg Suhr and instead stood by his promises for reform.
"This mayor's a complete disgrace and if anyone doesn't see that then they don't know what's going on," said Sallssie Striker, one of the hunger strikers, to ABC7. "This is the most despicable mayor and we are putting our line on the line and they are going [sic] out."
The Frisco Five are striking against police shootings like those of Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, but their action was sparked by the revelation of racist text messages within the police department and the death of Luis Gongora, a homeless man relocated by the mayor.
"The Frisco 5 told him that their blood would be on his hands," wrote the group in a statement.
They implied that they will not end their strike until the chief is fired, despite reforms. Lee, however, backed Suhr’s record.
"He (Lee) let the group know that reforming the Police Department is bigger than any one chief and that this chief, mayor and police commission are fully embracing and leading the efforts to reform the department with the community and under the full review of the U.S. Department of Justice," Lee’s spokesperson Christine Falvey said in an email to Bay City News.