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Activists Protest SFPD Shootings With Mission District Hunger Strike

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Community activists outraged by recent police killings in San Francisco took a dramatic step Thursday in an effort to spur change by staging a hunger strike outside a Mission District police station.

Local rapper and activist "Ilych Equipto" Sato is leading this small group on the hunger strike outside the police station at the intersection of Valencia and 17th streets.

Calling themselves members of the Black & Brown Social Club, the protesters said they planned to stay in front of the station, consuming nothing but liquids until police Chief Greg Suhr is either fired or resigns.

"I come to you as a son of San Francisco that's fighting for justice," said Sato.

Sato told gathered KPIX 5 the hunger strike was something that he and others had been seriously considering for a while.

"This is just a really deep issue and it shows no sign of letting up and we just need to do something radical," said Ike Pinkston, a hunger strike participant and member of the club. "I'll stay out here for however long it takes, one week, two weeks, two months."

The protesters say they plan to stay until they collapse from malnutrition or until their call for the resignation of Suhr or San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is answered.

The action is to call attention to what they see as fatal racism by the San Francisco Police Department.

"We've exhausted every option to seek justice for the black and brown community here in San Francisco," said protester Edward Lindo.

The protesters point out a number of officer-involved shootings in recent years. 28-year-old Alex Nieto was killed by police two years ago in Bernal Heights. He was armed with a Taser that police thought was a pistol.

26-year-old Mario Woods, was shot 20 times by Bayview police in December. Woods was carrying a knife and refused to drop it.

Most recently, police shot and killed a homeless man Luis Gongora in the Mission District on April 7th. Authorities say Gongora also had a knife that he would not drop.

"I'm not naïve, I know that not every cop is a bad cop but they're all part of the same brotherhood," Pinkston said. "The good cops don't speak up about the bad cops."

On Wednesday, Mayor Lee addressed the protest.

"Whether they call it a demonstration, a hunger strike or a march, we're going to respect that," said Lee. "And we've heard. I take police reform seriously, and so does the chief."

Suhr has been dogged by repeated calls for his resignation from activists since the Dec. 2 fatal police shooting of Mario Woods. He was not available to comment on the protest.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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