“Fingerprints of a Hunger Strike” calls out San Francisco’s gentrification

SAN FRANCISCO — “Fingerprints of a Hunger Strike” is a collection of short stories and poems written by Fil-Am poet and activist, Tony Robles.

The book was partly inspired by the “Frisco 5” hunger strikers — who in 2016 went nearly 17 days without food to demand the firing of then SFPD Chief Greg Suhr for what they believe to be the unjust police shootings of black and brown San Franciscans.

“I was very much moved by the fact that they would take that type of action and really speak for people who live in San Francisco who feel deeply about that and feel deeply about being marginalized and overlooked,” said Robles.

Robles says his book comes from someone who was born and raised in San Francisco and is seeing the city change for the worse.

“Poem about Iris Canada, who was the 100-year-old elder who was evicted. There is a letter actually to Tony Bennett, who sang ‘I left my heart in San Francisco’. The letter is basically this is a world-class town but it’s not treating its people, particularly its elders, in a dignified way.”

As San Francisco enjoys the tech boom — Robles argues that the city is disrespectful in ridding its long time residents to make room for transplants.

“Communities that have been here are treated as if they were the furniture that just came with the house. Gentrification and our people being here, our Frisco culture — it’s not just a house and it’s not just a street, not just a window. Our fingerprints are on this city.”

Robles says that no matter how big or different San Francisco gets — Filipinos, who were born or immigrated here, have a right to this city and should be ready to defend it.

“Frisco-Pino is the black inside that can’t be denied. Frisco-Pino is as bad and loud with a heart too big for its chest. It’s a tattoo that covers our pain. And it’s the proud, proud lechon skin that covers our bones. Frisco-Pino is Filipino from Frisco and everything that comes with it.”


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