American activists have held another rally in San Francisco, California, to demand once again that police chief Greg Suhr step down over recent officer-involved shootings and a string of racist text messages exchanged among officers.
The protesters circled the sidewalk in front of the San Francisco City Hall for hours Monday, expressing solidarity with five hunger strikers who’ve been protesting the police killings of African Americans and Hispanics.
The protest came after 33 demonstrators were arrested Friday when they clashed with police officers who forced them to clear out of the rotunda of City Hall when they refused to disperse.
Members of the so-called Frisco Five, the group that held a 17-day hunger strike, were still in the hospital and getting re-accustomed to food. Their supporters held the demonstration in their absence.
Since becoming chief in 2011, Suhr’s mismanagement has led to dozens of brutality and corruption lawsuits, many of which are kept away from the media in order to deflect public criticism.
“This is excellent,” Ben Bac Sierra, 44, one of the protest organizers, said of the turnout. “Some will come and go, but the spirit and momentum out here is beautiful.
Bac Sierra — whose friend Alex Nieto was fatally shot by four San Francisco police officers in Bernal Heights Park in 2014 — said Monday’s strike proves “his spirit is living on.”
Nieto’s parents, Refugio and Elvira, helped lead the protest, saying they were hopeful that continuing demonstrations would advance justice for their son and others who have been shot and killed by San Francisco police.
The San Francisco Police Department is under federal investigation after complaints that some officers routinely behave in a racially biased manner.
Along with dozens of other police departments around the nation, the San Francisco police — who work in one of the nation’s most culturally diverse cities — have come under scrutiny during the past year.
Officers have been accused of using unnecessary deadly force and brutality, and of focusing enforcement efforts on black neighborhoods while ignoring similar infractions elsewhere.
In January, the US Justice Department announced that it would review the San Francisco Police Department after the December 2 shooting death of a African American man, Mario Woods, 26, on a city street.