Chief Suhr cancels appearance after day of protest

San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr cancelled a planned public appearance with Public Defender Jeff Adachi Tuesday evening after a day of protests calling for his job.

Protesters were headed in the direction of the planned police accountability forum, at Congregation Sherith Israel at 2266 California St., after disrupting the Board of Supervisors meeting today and gathering outside Mayor Ed Lee’s door demanding Suhr be fired.

Shortly before the scheduled 7 p.m. public forum, Suhr canceled his involvement. In an email, police officials said:

“Security concerns were expressed to the organizers and they made the decision to cancel.”

However the public defender’s office said Adachi would hold a meeting there with or without Suhr. Adachi “will go forward with tonight’s event at Sherith Israel, as a community conversation,” officials in his office wrote on Twitter.

The hundreds of protesters who gathered this afternoon were in support of hunger strikers calling for Suhr’s ouster.

Five people dubbed the #Frisco5 have refrained from eating for 13 days in protest of recent police killings in San Francisco and are calling for Lee to fire police Suhr.

The supporters marched from the Mission Police Station to City Hall this afternoon, pushing the five hunger strikers in wheelchairs, and then gathered in Civic Center Plaza at about 2:30 p.m. while chanting “Fire Chief Suhr!”

The protesters then entered City Hall and stood outside the door to the mayor’s office, where they were told by the mayor’s Director of Violence Prevention Services Diana Oliva-Aroche that Lee was not inside.

Around the same time, Lee posted a photo on Twitter from a meeting with merchants in the city’s Bayview District in support of small businesses.

An hour later, Lee posted a photo of himself touring a homeless shelter on Pier 80.

Some of the protesters then went into the Board of Supervisors chambers and called for the supervisors to make the mayor fire Suhr. One protester said at the meeting:

“Now is the time to take action. … People are dying literally across the hall, they’re withering away. Are you ready to do something?”

Board president London Breed then called for a recess of the meeting while chanting continued.

During the recess, the supervisors held an impromptu conversation with the demonstrators, and at one point two of the hunger strikers were wheeled to the front of the room, right in front of board President London Breed. Deputies quickly removed them.

Breed assured the crowd that reforms were in the works. “No it’s not enough, and no it’s not perfect,” she said of the progress thus far. “This is not going to happen overnight.”

The protesters had hoped to meet with the mayor and after being unable to find him, headed for the scheduled forum with Suhr.

The demonstrations were spurred by the recent fatal shootings by police officers in San Francisco, including of Mario Woods by several officers in the Bayview District in December. Bystanders captured that shooting on video and it circulated widely on social media.

Felia Sala, a Vallejo resident attending Tuesday’s protest said:

“Technology is taking over and we’re tired of seeing it on video.”

The march from the Mission District to City Hall blocked traffic on many major thoroughfares in The City this afternoon, including Mission Street, Market Street and Van Ness Avenue.