‘Frisco 5’ protesters call off hunger strike

The five activists who refused to eat until San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr resigns or is fired called off their hunger strike Saturday after 17 days of abstaining from solid foods, a spokesperson for the group confirmed.

The so-called “Frisco 5” — Rappers Ilych “Equipto” Sato and Sellassie Blackwell, supervisor candidate Edwin Lindo, and pre-school workers Maria Cristina Gutierrez and Ike Pinkston — began their hunger strike April 21 in response to the fatal police shootings of four black and Latino men by San Francisco police in recent years.

They were hospitalized Friday for medical personnel to monitor their deteriorating health. Also on Friday, protests erupted inside City Hall that later turned violent and led to the arrest of 33 activists on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing and refusal to disperse. They have all reportedly since been released from custody.

The five hunger strikers called off their effort in response to pressure from community members who urged them to not further risk their health.

“This doesn’t mean that our fight is over,” said Yayne Abeba, a spokesperson for the hunger strikers. “It just means they will no longer be doing the hunger strike.”

Instead, the group is calling on the community to hold a citywide strike beginning at 8 a.m. Monday at City Hall. Abeba said the “general strike” includes not going to work, school or visiting businesses in an effort to essentially bring San Francisco to a halt.

Meanwhile, Friday’s protest left City Hall with smashed front windows and destroyed metal detectors at the side facing Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

“Thousands of peaceful individuals have long expressed their views in protest on our front steps,” City Administrator Naomi Kelly said in a statement. “However, [Friday’s] actions crossed the line, causing thousands of dollars in property damage and impacting weddings and elections activities.”

Repairs are slated to begin Monday. The full costs of the damage won’t be known until after the repairs are completed, but will likely cost thousands of dollars in labor and material costs due to the landmark status of City Hall, according to the city administrator’s office.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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