Saturday, May 14, 2016

Four SF Supervisors Back the Frisco 5 Cause to Fire The Chief


Left to right:  Edwin Lindo, Ike Pinkston, Ilyich "Equipto" Sato and Sellassie Blackwell

by Denise Sullivan

Five days after ending their hunger strike, on Thursday morning the Frisco 5 minus Maria Cristina Gutierrez, returned to the Mission Police Station at the corner of Valencia and 17th Streets in San Francisco to report back on their health and their intentions to build a movement for police reform, their one demand the same as it ever was: Fire SFPD Chief Greg Suhr. Against a backdrop of almost daily revelations regarding the toxicity of the department, and one day after four members of the Board of Supervisors, led by State Senate candidate Jane Kim called for a national search to replace the chief, the Frisco 5 (Gutierrez, Edwin Lindo, Ike Pinkston, and two hip hop artists, Ilyich "Equipto" Sato and Sellassie Blackwell) remain steadfast in their resolve to keep the pressure on Mayor Ed Lee until the day Suhr is fired.

"People are tired and fed up. We're not blind," said Equipto of the political maneuvering behind closed doors at City Hall. In previous discussions with the Frisco 5 and other community organizations, the Supervisors maintained they had no stake in police matters, that it in fact would be a breach of law to intervene. However following this week's Board meeting at which Mayor Lee was in attendance and Frisco 5 supporters voiced loudly their demand to "Fire Chief Suhr," the Supervisors began to wake up: They began by challenging the Mayor's position on maintaining an expensive, heavy law enforcement presence at City Hall following last week's shutdown of the building by citizens.

"Thirty-three people were arrested; they are using violent tactics on us," said Frisco 5's Edwin Lindo at Thursday's press conference. He and the community that supports police reform have a particular distaste for this week's solution proposed by Lee: He's suggesting $17.5 million be invested in retraining, the creation of community programs, and the building of a supposedly less-lethal arsenal of tasers and net-guns; detractors say the money could otherwise be allocated to help displaced, homeless, and other persons in need as a result of the Lee administration's poor civic leadership.

Whether it was the community groundswell, the absurdity of Lee's proposal, the outcome of the blue ribbon panel that found the department lacks transparency and accountability, or the weight of their own conscience, by Wednesday, Supervisor Kim was followed by her fellow Supervisors David Campos, John Avalos, and Eric Mar in the call for police reform from the top down. Equipto said his mother, Maria Cristina Gutierrez, who could not attend the news conference due to a decline in her health following the hunger strike was particularly disappointed in how slow-acting the Supervisors were in understanding their role in challenging police misconduct; her health was the consequence and indeed the health of all the hunger strikers was compromised. As Ike Pinkston put it, "The mayor doesn't give a rat's ass. It's obvious."

"Ed Lee should be packing his office right now," said Edwin Lindo, who also offered congratulations to the student hunger strikers at SF State who fought to retain their ethnic studies program and won, ending their nine-day hunger strike and earning nearly half a million dollars for their department this week.

"Everyone said, 'You can't do this,'" said Sellassie of the Frisco 5's intent to launch a hunger strike on April 21. ""We did…I think Chief Suhr's days are over."

Denise Sullivan is the author of Keep on Pushing: Black Power Music From Blues to Hip Hop. She writes from San Francisco on gentrification and the arts.

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At 7:31 PM, Blogger Roger said...

"... detractors say the money could otherwise be allocated to help displaced, homeless, and other persons in need as a result of the Lee administration's poor civic leadership."
Is there any reason to think the money would be used to help people?


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