When Edwin Lindo, candidate for District 9 Supervisor, got up to speak at a rally against police shootings on Friday night, he felt woozy and collapsed. An ambulance was called, Lindo went in, and EMTs told him he had low blood sugar and was cold. He told them he couldn’t go to the hospital.

Along with four others, he was on hunger strike to unseat Police Chief Greg Suhr. The EMTs weren’t happy about Lindo’s insistence on staying. 

“They said, why would you do this to yourself? You know, there’s people in this world who don’t have a choice to die and you’re going to put yourself through this willingly?” he said. “I’m like, that’s kind of the point of a hunger strike.”

Lindo recounted what happened while swathed in blankets and a hat, seated under the yellow glow of the lights outside Mission Police Station late Friday night. He looked grey, bleary-eyed and tired. At one point, a supporter handed him a kitten she had just adopted. His eyes widened in surprise – but slowly.

Some 48 hours earlier, Maria Cristina Gutierrez, the 66-year-old preschool director who organized the strike, had said she was trying anything to “soften the hearts” of officials. Here was a weakened Lindo, barely mustering the strength to coddle a tiny feline, the softest possible picture.

So far city officials have said little about the strike. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recommended the activists send him an email or letter. Suhr did not return a call for comment.

The concern growing among supporters was palpable. Friends and loved ones hovered around Lindo, offering support, embraces, juice.

“Sometimes you joke about things ‘cause it takes the edge off, but it got real,” said rapper Ilyich “Equipto” Sato, Gutierrez’ son, also fasting. He, too, looked worn out and cold, but could still speak above a murmur. “Our health is a precious thing and Ed Lindo is out here putting it on the line.”

“I guess it was inevitable that something like this would happen, but this just goes to show our dedication…this is just gonna keep on happening ,” said Nick DeRenzi, a member of the Justice for Mario Woods coalition. “It’s unfortunate that it’s gotten to this point, but…like [Gutierrez] said, it’s time to go and take it to the next step and this is the next step.”

Still, Lindo was not in the hospital yet. He was lucid and protesting.

“I may have to end it if I feel as though it’s getting close to what I felt before,” he said. “But I think I’ll be alright…In some ways it’s healing, and understanding what people are going through.”

While advocates responded with an outpouring of support, other reactions were mixed.

“Silence is complicity!” the owner of the kitten, Natalia Garcia, called out to a gaggle of passing girls.

“Why would you say that? We do care!” one of them retorted, offended.

“Cause we’re white?” another demanded as they walked away.

“No, ‘cause you’re whack!” Equipto shouted after them.

That kind of reaction is not uncommon.

“Mostly people don’t know about SFPD brutality and they’re kind of oblivious to what we’re talking about, but when we start to explain everything that’s happened and we tie it to the death of Luis Gongora right here a couple weeks ago, then they start to…they have heard about it,” said Karen Fleshman, a race educator.  

“Some people just walk by…It makes people uncomfortable I think, a little bit. They don’t want to make eye contact,” said Natalia Garcia, who also goes by her artist name, La Favi. “And that’s the situation that we have in general…We’re kind of having to, you know, scream. Because if you don’t wanna listen then maybe I have to scream.”

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6 Comments

  1. Tonight is the wake of Mr Luis. Gongora at Duggan Funeral Home. 5 to 9
    3434 17th Street
    San Francisco, CA 94110
    Tel: 1-415-431-4900

    I see the wake as a place and way to show unity and community – Ias a non-political event, but recognizing the sadness of the death, and the tough life of people who are living un-housed on the street.

    I’m not ready to be chanting, the chant’s that some of the groups are saying against SFPD, but
    I’m feeling a need to do something, to say, there has been too much killing, and we want peace, and for some in the police to get out of their bubble that the see it okay to not turn in the other police sending racists texts and behaving against the communities in racists fashions.

  2. – “A hunger strike is a dangerous protest tactic in which a person simply refuses to eat in an effort to gain attention for their cause or issue. Hunger strikes can result in death, therefore, hunger strikes should be a ‘last resort for very dire situations’.”
    – “First, having a cultural lineage that facilitates the mainstream understanding of the power of fasting and therefore conveys gravity to it as a tactic is critical. In the United States today, we have a relatively secularized society where most people do not have a personal or religious connection to fasting”
    – “the hunger strikes that have been most effective at reaching their goals were or are within a context of well planned, long-term active campaigns, with individuals willing to fast to the death and a wide network of people supporting the strikers.”
    – “Preparations start within half the amount of days of the fasting period at minimum (i.e., 3½ days prior to a 7 day fast). For strikes lasting longer than 4 days, a week’s prep time is ideal. Preparations are a matter of building mental fortitude and gradual elimination of food from the diet. Start by eliminating sugar, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and any recreational drugs.
    Anyone on prescription medications should consult with their care provider and take their advice seriously.”

  3. Silence is complicity is right!!! Chief Suhr needs to resign! His police force has been given too many passes. There’s no excuse! He needs to take responsibility.

  4. “We’re kind of having to, you know, scream. Because if you don’t wanna listen then maybe I have to scream.”

    Maybe all the many victims of crime in the Mission (the ones that did not die) could go by their little political stunt theater and scream right back at them…..

  5. The mayor in collaboration with SFHA announced they are accepting applications for low income housing. The catch is you have to do it online . The tech capital SF cannot find a single technician to fix the SFHA website so people can log on and update their status another sabotage conspiracy to deter from low income people get housing in the city by making the sfha websiote malfunction wghen people want to update their status at the following link.

    http://waitlist.sfha.org/public/Login/Login.aspx

    Please tell me howelse i can update my status ?

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