At least 33 protesters have been arrested for calling on the mayor of San Francisco, California to fire the police chief amid growing anger over last year’s killing of an unarmed black man.
The protesters were arrested Friday night after converging at San Francisco's City Hall which resulted in clashes with deputies in riot gear, media reported late on Saturday.
The demonstrators wanted the mayor to fire Police Chief Greg Suhr whose mismanagement has led to dozens of brutality and corruption lawsuits, many of which are kept away from the media in order to deflect public criticism.
The protest follows the controversial police killings of Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, Amilcar Lopez, and most recently, a homeless man named Luis Gongora.
Earlier this month, racist text messages in which a San Francisco Police officer referred to African-Americans as "nigs," Mexicans as "beaners" and Indians as "disgusting" put further strains on the fraught relationship between community members and police.
The protesters were detained on suspicion of trespassing and failure to disperse, said San Francisco Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Eileen Hirst.
Hirst said she saw deputies holding batons and using them to corral the crowd, but did not witness any officer hitting protesters with them.
“If people experienced something very different than what I saw we would like to hear about it. We cant resolve it if we don’t know,” she said.
Joel Angel Juarez, a freelance photojournalist and student, said he was pushed to the ground by a sheriff’s deputy while taking pictures of the protest.
“I was pushed with a lot of force to the point I fell to the ground right next to the stairs,” he said.
On April 31, protesters joined five hunger strikers, four men and one woman, who had refrained from eating over police brutality in San Francisco.
The hunger strikers, dubbed the "Frisco Five," had been on a hunger striker for 16 days before they were taken to the hospital. Their protest camp outside the Mission District police station was packed up.
In January, the US Justice Department announced that it would review the San Francisco Police Department after the December 2 shooting death of Mario Woods, 26, on a city street.
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