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Protesters Rally At City Hall For Hospitalized 'Frisco Five' Hunger Strikers

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Protesters rallied at San Francisco's City Hall Friday evening to show their support as the so-called #Frisco5 were hospitalized in the 16th day of their hunger strike.

The activists are demanding that San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee fire police chief Greg Suhr in the wake of a pair of officer-involved shootings.

The five – named the #Frisco5 – were taken to a local hospital from their Mission District encampment for a checkup after their health took a turn for the worst.

"Due to their deteriorating health, all five of the hunger strikers have been hospitalized. At this time we are not able to release any additional information due to privacy concerns," hunger strike organizers wrote on Facebook Friday.

A rally of about 40 protesters in support of the hunger strike commenced Friday afternoon in the San Francisco Civic Center and soon moved into City Hall.

The protesters, chanting "Fire Chief Suhr!" and hitting together drumsticks, first took over the main stairwell inside the City Hall lobby before moving into one of the hallways, eventually stopping in front of Mayor Lee's office.

The Sheriff's deputies were wearing helmets with plastic face shields and were armed with batons.

Online media outlet Mission Local tweeted video of some minor scuffling between protesters and members of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department, but there was no word of any arrests as of early Friday evening.

On Thursday, the protests received a phone call from Lee.

In a statement released by the strikers, they said Lee told them "that he would not fire the chief and he stood behind Chief Suhr's record."

It was the first direct contact between the mayor and the Frisco5 hunger strikers who told Lee they would continue to go without food until the chief is fired.

"The mayor's response was 'this is your choice... and whatever you do I hope you take care of yourself,'" the group said in their release.

In a press release, Lee spokeswoman Christine Falvey said "Mayor Lee contacted the group today to let them know that he respects their right to protest, but hopes they will do so in a way that doesn't harm themselves."

On Wednesday, one of the strikers -- Selassie Blackwell – was taken to the hospital for an examination after fainting at the group's campsite.

He was examined at UCSF Medical Center and released. He returned to the campsite Wednesday night.

Suhr has been dogged by repeated calls from activists for his resignation since the Dec. 2 fatal police shooting of Mario Woods in the Bayview District.

Those calls were only intensified by the April 7 shooting of Luis Gongora, a 45-year-old homeless immigrant who was shot by police near a tent encampment on Shotwell Street, only blocks from the Mission Police Station.

In both cases, police have said the men were armed with a knife.

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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