SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Mayor Ed Lee rejected a call for the firing of Police Chief Greg Suhr in a phone conversation with five hunger strikers who are demanding the chief’s removal.
In a statement released by the strikers, they said Lee told them “that he would not fire the chief and he stood behind Chief Suhr’s record.”
It was the first direct contact between the mayor and the Frisco5 hunger strikers who told Lee they would continue to go without food until the chief is fired. The hunger strike entered its 15th day on Thursday.
“The mayor’s response was ‘this is your choice… and whatever you do I hope you take care of yourself,’” the group said in their release.
In a press release, Lee spokeswoman Christine Falvey said “Mayor Lee contacted the group today to let them know that he respects their right to protest, but hopes they will do so in a way that doesn’t harm themselves.”
The call came a day after one of the strikers — Selassie Blackwell – was taken to the hospital for an examination after fainting at the group’s campsite.
He was examined at UCSF Medical Center and released. He returned to the campsite Wednesday night.
Hundreds of protesters in support of the hunger strikers marched to City Hall on Tuesday in an attempt to meet with Lee, pushing the five hunger strikers in wheelchairs.
After learning Lee was not in City Hall, some of the protesters then interrupted the Board of Supervisors meeting that was in session, prompting Board President London Breed to call a recess.
During the recess, some of the supervisors held an impromptu conversation with the protesters, in some cases agreeing with the need for reforms but refusing to endorse calls for Suhr to be fired.
The group later marched to a planned police accountability forum at Congregation Sherith Israel at 2266 California St., where Suhr and Public Defender Jeff Adachi were scheduled to speak. Suhr canceled his appearance, citing security concerns.
Suhr has been dogged by repeated calls from activists for his resignation since the Dec. 2 fatal police shooting of Mario Woods in the Bayview District.
Those calls were only intensified by the April 7 shooting of Luis Gongora, a 45-year-old homeless immigrant who was shot by police near a tent encampment on Shotwell Street, only blocks from the Mission Police Station.
In both cases, police have said the men were armed with a knife.
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