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.

June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
June 18, 2018
Paul Street
Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought
John Pilger
Bring Julian Assange Home
Conn Hallinan
The Spanish Labyrinth
Patrick Cockburn
Attacking Hodeidah is a Deliberate Act of Cruelty by the Trump Administration
Gary Leupp
Trump Gives Bibi Whatever He Wants
Thomas Knapp
Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having
Robert Fisk
I Spoke to Palestinians Who Still Hold the Keys to Homes They Fled Decades Ago – Many are Still Determined to Return
Steve Early
Requiem for a Steelworker: Mon Valley Memories of Oil Can Eddie
Jim Scheff
Protect Our National Forests From an Increase in Logging
Adam Parsons
Reclaiming the UN’s Radical Vision of Global Economic Justice
Dean Baker
Manufacturing Production Falls in May and No One Notices
Laura Flanders
Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries
Binoy Kampmark
The Anguish for Lost Buildings: Embers and Death at the Victoria Park Hotel
Weekend Edition
June 15, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Dan Kovalik
The US & Nicaragua: a Case Study in Historical Amnesia & Blindness
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Yellow Journalism and the New Cold War
Charles Pierson
The Day the US Became an Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail