Maria Cristina Gutierrez speaking with the mayor inside the Mission District police station. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Mayor Ed Lee came unannounced to the Mission District police station on Monday just after noon where a group of hunger strikers — known as the Frisco Five — declined to meet with him, saying they would wait until Tuesday at 2 pm. when they are scheduled to march to city hall.

The strikers are on day 12 of a protest demanding the firing of Police Chief Greg Suhr or the resignation of the mayor over a series of police shootings and racist text message scandals. It is unclear if Tuesday’s meeting will take place.

Christine Falvey, a spokesperson for the mayor, said after the visit that Lee has been monitoring the hunger strike since it was announced. He came to the station on Monday because he heard the strikers wanted to arrange a meeting.

“The mayor went out there, he rearranged his schedule today, wanted to make himself available, and they refused to meet with him,” she said. “He really wanted to go out and offer to meet with them one-on-one or as group with no conditions, to hear them out, and to tell them about [police] reform efforts.”

The strikers said they would not meet with the mayor “on his terms” and were planning on meeting with him tomorrow at city hall. Falvey did not say Lee would refuse a meeting tomorrow, but said he already rearranged his schedule for a meeting today and did not have any meeting planned for Tuesday.

“There’s nothing scheduled that the mayor is meeting with them tomorrow,” she said.

As the mayor sat inside the police station for some 30 minutes waiting to see whether the hunger strikers would come in for a meeting, the strikers lambasted Lee for waiting 12 days to make an appearance and coming without warning.

“We’re 12 days into starvation. You know what that says to us? You didn’t care,” said Edwin Lindo, one of the hunger strikers and a candidate for District 9 Supervisor, through a bullhorn. “So tomorrow we are happy to meet with you at city hall. Leave your doors open, we will walk in, we will meet with you.”

“But just know we have one demand,” Lindo continued. “That Chief Suhr be fired. Because that man has been operating this police department with impunity.”

The mayor entered the police station through a side entrance and was spotted inside by Maria Cristina Gutierrez, a 66-year-old hunger striker who was leaving the bathroom when Lee walked into a community meeting room within the station.

“It was a miracle, I went to the bathroom and I saw the mayor went in and I went out there [to the hunger strikers] and said ‘Hey, he’s there in that room! He’s sneaking on us,’” she said.

While the mayor sat inside the station, his aides went outside and spoke to hunger strikers, asking that they meet with the mayor.

The strikers instead took a megaphone and called for the resignation of Chief Suhr.

“We are more than happy to speak to you if you’re going to tell us Chief Suhr will be fired,” shouted Sellassie Blackwell, one of the hunger strikers.

Gutierrez was inside the station throughout, seated in a lawn chair where she often stays for warmth, and spoke to the mayor when he left the room.

“I did not let him talk because I need the five together in order to meet with him,” she said. Gutierrez said she felt disrespected that he entered the station without informing the hunger strikers ahead of time.

She also said the mayor should work harder to root out racism within the police department given his Asian background.

“I told him he should be ashamed of himself,” she said. “He’s an Asian man, and he’s allowing for racism to grow in the police force.”

“I also told him that he’s hiding a criminal, protecting a criminal, because the chief of police is a criminal,” she added.

As the mayor, surrounded by his aides and more than a dozen police officers, left the station into the parking lot, protesters squared off against officers near the parking lot exit. They repeated their demands that the police chief be fired and criticized the mayor for waiting almost two weeks to visit the hunger strikers.

“You let us starve out here for 12 days. How dare you, blood?” screamed Blackwell.

Ike Pinkston, another hunger striker, said it was disrespectful to show up unannounced. He said he predicted that the mayor would pay the strikers a visit but did not think he would use a side entrance.

“That dude’s such a coward,” said Pinkston. “Man, in the hood that’s what we call a bitch move.”

“You’re trying to tell me the mayor couldn’t walk past us into the police station, he had to sneak through?” he added.

Lindo said the visit was an attempt to defuse tomorrow’s march and was adamant that the strike would be successful in dethroning the police chief.

“We’re playing chess, we’re not playing checkers,” he said. “And we’re going to get a checkmate. Chief Suhr will be fired.”

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11 Comments

  1. Fortunately for the Mayor, upchucking on the Mayor was not an option.

    Enough with the identity politics crap. Shameless operators will not be shamed based on the perceptions by others of what ethnicity means to the shameless

  2. Its not like Greg Suhr has been doing a good job for the new people, the newspaper says that
    “SF Now Has Highest Per Capita Property Crime Rate In The US”
    http://sfist.com/2016/04/25/sf_now_has_highest_per_capita_prope.php

    Greg Suhr sure isn’t doing a good job in community relations with the Black and Brown people. The way he has them ticketing the lowriders, and just plain out kill ’em.

    And even the majority of the Cops are sick of Greg Suhr teaching them that the error of the Mario Woods killing is they waited too long, and should kill the Barbarians before the witnesses can get their camera out, praising how they killed Luis Demetrio.

    sicko should have been fired a long time ago

  3. Maybe if they did an actual hunger strike they would have spoken to the mayor by now. The chocolate flavored coconut water and chicken broth they are drinking are more calories than 2 billion people eat per day. Also, it doesn’t do the protesters any good to rely on the police station for bathroom breaks and charging of their phones. Are there not supporters willing to bring a latrine and some portable phone chargers to these folks?

    For the woman staying inside to keep warm, are there not supporters that can bring blankets and warming equipment?

    The image of the protesters relying on the police for warmth, restrooms and power doesn’t help their cause.

    If you want results, bring this childrens protest up to adult standards.

    1. John, you talk the talk all the time. But I’m sure you’ve walked the walk like these people.

    2. Are you a supporter of the hunger strike John Thompson? If you are, approach them directly with your concerns, because this public sniping isn’t helping. But if you’re just trying to undermine the campaign, as it appears, then there’s no reason for the strikers to take your sniping seriously, is there?

  4. “The strikers said they would not meet with the mayor ‘on his terms.’”

    Um, why? Do you want to talk to the guy or not?

    “Gutierrez said she felt disrespected that he entered the station without informing the hunger strikers ahead of time.”

    News flash: You do not own the police station.

    1. News flash: we all own the police station.

      Maybe you forgot: in a democracy, citizens are the sovereigns; police are public servants.

      1. I am well aware it’s a democracy, and as such I, too, “own” a fraction of every public building in town, but I neither expect nor want folks to check in with me every time they go inside.

        One minute the protesters are mad the mayor went to the police station without talking to them. The next minute they refused to talk with him. Pick a lane, people!

  5. Just like Trump a couple of days ago in Burlingame slipping in through the tradesman’s entrance, a couple of slimy worms.

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