Protesters block off Valencia in front of SF Mission police station

Protesters on ValenciaProtesters on Valencia. Photo by Julian Mark

Some 100 protesters demanding justice for the victims of police shootings blocked off Valencia Street between 17th and 18th streets tonight in front of the Mission Police Station and demanded that the District Attorney press charges against the officers involved in shootings.

To date, no SFPD officers have been charged in any San Francisco police shooting.

“We’re always fighting against police brutality,” said Gina Madrid. “Our lives matter.”

For the most part, the protesters addressed one another, but when one man began attacking the police in front of the station, the officers remained impassive and kept their composure.

The protest was planned to coincide with the anniversary of the Frisco 5’s 17-day hunger strike in May 2016, when the strikers camped out in front of the Mission Police Station and demanded the resignation of Police Chief Greg Suhr.

On May 19, after another police shooting, Suhr resigned.

“The hardest part of the hunger strike was remaining united and making sure that people who came visit us respected what we were doing,” said 70-year-old Christina Gutierrez, one of the Frisco 5. “That was difficult.”

“We need to have a total transformation of the SFPD,” she added. “Not reform but a transformation.”

Christina Gutierrez, 70, one of the Frisco 5 stands with Alexa Medina, 22. Photo by Julian Mark

Former Mayor Ed Lee replaced Suhr with an outsider from Los Angeles, Bill Scott, who has overseen reforms recommended by the Department of Justice, but has been faulted by some for moving too slowly.

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Rapper Equipto (Ilych Sato), another member of the Frisco 5, said the protesters had learned a lot since the hunger strike.

“How people relate to this struggle, how people don’t relate to this struggle — how people lie to us,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot over these two years.”

“The city is sleeping,” he said, adding that it is “time to wake up the people who don’t know about it and even the people who do know about it.”

Equipto from the Frisco 5. Photo by Julian Mark.

Photo by Julian Mark.

“This is ground zero for police protest,” said Barbara Sain. Photo by Julian Mark.

“We are paying for the 99 bullets that went into Adolfo Delgado,” said Nancy Hernandez, referring to the 19-year-old police fired on earlier this year after the suspect in an armed burglary shot at police from the trunk of a car.

“We are paying for the 54 bullets that went into Alex Nieto,” she said referring to the 28-year-old security guard police shot at, saying they mistook his Taser for a firearm. 

District Attorney George Gascón, she reminded the crowd, has not charged any of the officers involved in the shootings.

“And he is still collecting his salary,” she said.

Nancy Hernandez. Photo by Julian Mark.

Delgado’s family attended the protest. Photo by Julian Mark.

Victor Torres, 26, Adolfo Delgado’s brother, said,  “We’re looking for justice. I miss my brother every day. My family misses him every day.”

“I would like to see everything change — the cops change, and cops get charged.”

Victor Torres, Adolfo Delgado’s brother. Photo by Julian Mark.

Gwen Woods, the mother of Mario Woods, who was shot and killed on December 2, 2015, was also at the protest.

“To them, my son was just a nigger,” Woods said.  “We should never be afraid of people we pay our taxes to,” she added.

“What has changed since 2015?” she asked.

Gwen Woods, the mother of Mario Woods. Photo by Julian Mark.

Police lined up in front of the station. Photo by Julian Mark.

“This is about community; it’s bigger than the Frisco 5,” said Ike Pinkston, another member of the Frisco 5.

In the two years since the strike, he said, not much has changed.

“All we did was trade one bad apple for another,” he said referring to Suhr and Scott. “Because there are still killings going on.”

By 8 p.m., the crowd started to thin, and Valencia between 17th and 18th streets was again open to traffic.

Ike Pinkston, member of the Frisco 5. Photo by Julian Mark.

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