FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”

San Francisco, May 1.

Five hunger strikers – angered by new police murders of Black and brown people – have been occupying half the sidewalk in front of Mission Police Station since April 21. It’s Day 11 of their liquid-only fast and they’re losing weight, but they vow to keep it up until SF Police Chief Greg Suhr resigns or is fired.

“We see so many execution-style police murders of young Black and Latino men – it just doesn’t stop,” said Cristina Gutierrez, 66, a teacher and hunger striker. “Since the killings of Alex Nieto (in 2014), then Amilcar Perez-Lopez, then Mario Woods, the community has been on the move, with weekly meetings, town halls, marches, and protests at City Hall. But it hasn’t moved the chief or the mayor one bit. Now the police gunned down Luis Gongora, only a few blocks from where we’re sitting. For us, that was the last straw.”

Witnesses say Gongora, 45, a Yucatecan Mayan man from Mexico, was the target of 11 shots from police weapons on April 6 while sitting on the ground near his blue tent in a small homeless encampment on Shotwell Street in the Mission District. Apparently he did not understand the “orders” barked by the officers.

The ‘Frisco Five’ hunger strikers include Cristina’s son Ilyich (Equipto) Sato and Ike Pinkston, both 42, who work with her at the Companeros del Barrio preschool in the Mission. The others are Selassie Blackwell, 39, and Edwin Lindo, 29. Equipto and Selassie are active as hip hop artists. Pinkston, a father of two, is a soon-to-be-published poet. Lindo is running for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. They say their hunger strike “is organized with the guidance of the Black and Brown Social Club, which works to unite and empower the Black and Brown communities.”

Hundreds of people come by every day to offer support and encouragement to the fasters, preparing their drinks (a secret recipe rumored to include coconut water, broth and miso), or joining them in a 60-minute, raucous occupation of the nearby intersection at 17th and Valencia streets, or for a Saturday afternoon of drums and dancing outside the police station. “High school students come by. So many who say there’s no time to wait any more, to stop these police killings,” said Gutierrez. “People coming by who were active in the movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s: it’s an outpouring of love from the community.”

One supporter, Ruthie Sakheim who runs a weekly discussion series called Occupy Forum, tied the police killings to the rent-gouging, gentrification and displacement that is plaguing Black and brown neighborhoods . “This is not normal,” she said. “Nowadays when the police come in, they shoot people in the heart or in the head. Why is this? We know some of the officers are Army veterans who’ve been trained to shoot to kill. It’s happened so many times, this cannot be just an accident. I think they are intending to kill people in these neighborhoods. The big developers, do they have a hand in this? Are police getting orders from somewhere to terrorize these targeted areas? I don’t know for sure, but there is more to this than meets the eye.”

For more on San Francisco’s struggle against police murder and gentrification, see “Black & Brown Unity against Police Impunity” by the same author, CounterPunch, March 2016

More articles by:

Dave Welsh, a delegate to the San Francisco Labor Council, was a member of a Human Rights and Labor Fact Finding Delegation to Haiti in October, that reported on systematic voter suppression, violence and intimidation in the election process.

November 15, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Ukania: the Land Where the Queen’s Son Has His Shoelaces Ironed by His Valet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Spraying Poisons, Chasing Ghosts
Anthony DiMaggio
In the Wake of the Blue Wave: the Midterms, Recounts, and the Future of Progressive Politics
Christopher Ketcham
Build in a Fire Plain, Get What You Deserve
Meena Miriam Yust
Today It’s Treasure Island, Tomorrow Your Neighborhood Store: Could Local Currencies Help?
Karl Grossman
Climate of Rage
Walter Clemens
How Two Demagogues Inspired Their Followers
Brandon Lee
Radical Idealism: Jesus and the Radical Tradition
Kim C. Domenico
An Anarchist Uprising Against the Liberal Ego
Elliot Sperber
Pythagoras in Queens
November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail