Dozens arrested, property damaged in SF protest

Repairs are needed at San Francisco City Hall after an hours-long protest Friday night by organizers supporting five hunger strikers, who are calling for the resignation of police Chief Greg Suhr, caused damage and resulted in dozens of arrests.

The protest began around 4 p.m. when dozens of protestors arrived at City Hall chanting and singing, while demanding to meet with Mayor Ed Lee at his office.

When sheriff’s deputies closed the doors to the building at around 5 p.m., the protesters instead moved the protest to the main entrance inside City Hall. Some sat in the doorways of the main entrance, in order to let more protesters inside, refusing to move from their spot, even as deputies stood guard at the doors.

By the evening, about 200 protesters had arrived, as some lined up against a group of sheriff’s deputies dressed in riot gear.

The protestors were demanding that the mayor fire police Chief Suhr in response to recent fatal shootings by police of black and Latino men, including Alex Nieto, Mario Woods, Amilcar Perez Lopez and Luis Gongora.

After a several confrontations with deputies inside City Hall, 33 people were ultimately arrested before the group chose to leave around midnight, according Yayne Abeba, a spokeswoman for the hunger strikers, also known as the Frisco Five.

Abeba said:

“It’s disappointing that what we’re protesting is police violence and so they shouldn’t have used more police violence. But we’re resilient and we’re not going to stop.”

Before the protest, at around noon, the Frisco Five were taken to the University of California at San Francisco Hospital, Abeba said.

The five had been camped outside the Mission police station for 16 days, before doctors monitoring their health decided the group could no longer safely proceed with the hunger strike.

This afternoon, the five remain in the hospital in stable condition. Two of the five have decided to continue with the hunger strike, according to Abeba.

The protest left City Hall with smashed front windows and destroyed metal detectors, at the side facing Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place.

City Administrator Naomi Kelly said in a statement:

“Thousands of peaceful individuals have long expressed their views in protest on our front steps. However, yesterday’s actions crossed the line, causing thousands of dollars in property damage and impacting weddings and elections activities.”

Repairs are slated to begin Monday. The full costs of the damage won’t be known until after the repairs are completed, but will likely cost thousands of dollars in labor and material costs due to the landmark status of City Hall, according to the city administrator’s office.

City Hall will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday. Visitors are asked to use the Van Ness, Grove and McAllister entrances while repairs take place.