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Frisco 5 Hunger Striker Equipto speaks on Jessica Williams-Nelson’s murder by SFPD and former Chief Suhr’s ouster

June 1, 2016

by The People’s Minister of Information JR

I am interviewing Equipto of the Frisco 5 Hunger Strike about the history of their movement, as well as his feelings on the resignation of Police Chief Suhr in San Francisco, after the police murder of Jessica Williams-Nelson. This is one to tune in to.

Equipto raps at the second annual Malcolm X Day held in Hunters Point in Kenny’s (Mendell) Plaza on May 22, at the place where, in 2011, SFPD murdered 19-year-old Kenneth Harding Jr. Equipto and his Frisco 5 comrades are heroes for their 17-day hunger strike to demand the ouster of SFPD Chief Suhr – a protest so long and so serious that it caught and held the attention of the people of San Francisco and even the media until the people finally prevailed. – Photo: Noé Serfaty

Equipto raps at the second annual Malcolm X Day held in Hunters Point in Kenny’s (Mendell) Plaza on May 22, at the place where, in 2011, SFPD murdered 19-year-old Kenneth Harding Jr. Equipto and his Frisco 5 comrades are heroes for their 17-day hunger strike to demand the ouster of SFPD Chief Suhr – a protest so long and so serious that it caught and held the attention of the people of San Francisco and even the media until the people finally prevailed. – Photo: Noé Serfaty

M.O.I. JR: What prompted you to organize the collective that eventually became known as the Frisco 5?

Equipto: It came out organically really. It was just a group of people that came together and decided to go on a hunger strike. The movement just sprouted from that basically.

M.O.I. JR: What made y’all choose hunger striking as the tactic that you would employ to get Chief Suhr fired?

Equipto: It’s a serious situation that requires serious tactics. So we figured this would bring attention to the issues that’s going on in SF, such as homelessness, displacement, educational budget cuts and specifically the police killing Black and Brown people.

M.O.I. JR: How many days did you not eat? What was the experience like?

Equipto: We didn’t eat for 17-18 days. It was intense at times. Food is a luxury and sometimes we don’t realize it until we actually make time to reflect on that.

M.O.I. JR: How did the community respond? How did the police respond?

Equipto: The community responded with an urgency of love. The police responded with lazy concern for the strikers.

M.O.I.JR: What made the Frisco 5 end the hunger strike?

Equipto: The doctors who volunteered their time told us that we need to stop asap.

M.O.I. JR: Can you talk a little bit about the aims of the Frisco 500?

Equipto: Well, everything is based on removing (Mayor) Ed Lee by any means. That’s the aim. As well as charging every cop involved with murder.

M.O.I. JR: After the 29-year-young Jessica Williams was murdered by SFPD and Suhr “resigned,” do y’all feel like you accomplished your mission?

Equipto: Nah. It took another person’s life in order for this to happen. It’s not an accomplishment. It’s just a step. It’s a shame, but we won’t let her murder go unnoticed. All we can do is push forward, make sure the families are respected and seek justice.

M.O.I. JR: Can you talk about your direct support for the Ethnic Studies hunger strike at SF State that went down simultaneously or right after the Frisco 5?

Equipto: I’m close with three of the four SF State strikers. They got their own issues they’re facing as students and they felt they wanted to do a hunger strike. So we definitely supported them.

M.O.I. JR: How can people tune in with your movement?

Equipto: Message me on social media. We can go from there. Instagram: Equipto. Twitter: Equipto.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.

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