Protesters Disrupt Mayor Ed Lee’s Inauguration

Mayor Ed Lee (Christian Petersen / Getty)
Christian Petersen / Getty

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s second inauguration Friday was met with shouts and boos from protesters criticizing Lee for the creeping gentrification in his city and calling for Police Chief Greg Suhr to step down over growing tensions between the police department and the black community.

Lisa Gray-Garcia (aka “Tiny”), the co-founder of POOR Magazine, published a detailed post published in the San Francisco Bay View, her attempts to infiltrate security lines operated by the FBI, SWAT and Sheriff’s Department, and to bypass the police, in order to shout down Lee and Suhr.

“Fire Chief Suhr, Fire Ed Lie” came rolling out of my mouth uncontrollably and with the words came the sign that oddly appeared under my sweatshirt: “If we don’t fire Chief Suhr and recall Ed Lee, he will shoot and evict us all – #Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, Amilcar Lopez, Idriss Stelley, Kenneth Harding, Ron Likkers and Elaine Turner…

Video of the inauguration captured by the San Francisco Chronicle shows Lee and Gov. Jerry Brown practically shouting to make their voices heard over the boos of protesters. Ahsha Safai, who is a candidate for the District 11 supervisor’s seat, told the Chronicle “this has been my seventh mayoral inaugural, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Lee’s critics have blasted him for not doing enough to preserve and create affordable housing as high-earning techies and businesspeople, who are better able to afford the region’s skyrocketing rents, buy up properties while pushing traditional residents out.

This past October, local Bay Area rapper “Equipto” confronted Lee and called him a “disgrace to Asians,” blaming him for spurring the housing crisis that has displaced thousands in the city.

The Chronicle writes that Lee only made “glancing remarks” about controversies surrounding the police.

Calls for Suhr to step down at Friday’s ceremony were made over last month’s shooting death of Mario Woods, 26, after he refused to comply with officers’ orders to drop his weapon (a knife) following a fatal stabbing in the traditionally black Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood. Suhr, who has expressly stated that he will not resign from his post, reportedly left Friday’s inauguration immediately following the ceremony.

In her post, “Tiny” wrote that before the protesters left, “a young sister, Melissa Crosby, called us to arms with the famous Assata Shakur chant: ‘It is our duty to fight for our freedom / It is our duty to win / We must love and protect each other / We have nothing to lose but our chains / We have nothing to lose but our chains!'”

Shakur is an African-American activist and member of the former Black Panther Party who fled to Cuba from New Jersey, where she has been living in exile for 1984. She fled after living in exile for several years following a prison break stemming from several crimes including the murder of a police officer.

A longtime acquaintance of Mayor Lee called the chants and boos “disturbing,” telling the Chronicle, “I thought it was very unfortunate. Obviously [the protesters] want some public officer fired, but I’m not sure that’s the way to get their point across.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.


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