Reminder: Burritos on Bernal, Wed. May 21, 2014 (5pm meet @ Precita Park, 6pm walk up Bernal Hill)

Reminder: 2nd Monthly Burritos on Bernal!

With this monthly memorial gathering and procession up the hill, we demand justice and express our amor (love) for Alejandro “Alex” Nieto! Help take back Bernal Hill in honor of Alex Nieto!

ryns wedding (3) - CopyBURRITOS ON BERNAL:

  • Every 21st of the month!
  • 5pm Meet at Precita Park. (Bring Your Own Burrito; sunflower seeds, chips, drinks, and conversation.)
  • 6pm Memorial walk to northside slope of Bernal Hill (up Folsom Street)
  • Come share a burrito and build community with us!

Summary of Alex’s Story: On March 21st, 2014 around 7pm, Alex was eating a burrito, watching the sunset on Bernal Hill Park, before heading off to his night shift as a security guard. Witness say he was non-threatening: “just a guy eating a burrito.” All the same, someone called the cops on him because they were afraid of a young Latino man, who they thought carried a firearm. Seven minutes transpired between the placement of the 911 Call and four officers killing Alejandro by shooting him over fourteen times. In the aftermath of his death, the police proceeded to harass the Nieto Family, in what we believe was a frantic attempt to fabricate a story to cover an unlawful police murder. Alex was a lifelong resident of Bernal Hill. Learn more about Alex’s Story!

No vigorous investigation nor priority response has been given by the Office of the District Attorney of San Francisco, SFPD, the Police Commission, the Office of Citizen’s Complaints, the Office of the Medical Examiner, and specially Mayor Ed Lee, who has gone completely missing on this case. (Too busy hanging with redevelopers, we presume.)

 

Update: Takeaways from Meeting with D.A. (Friday May 16th, 2014)

FIRST, THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

We thank community members who signed petitions asking the District Attorney George Gascón to investigate and file criminal charges against the officers involved in the shooting of Alejandro “Alex” Nieto. The D.A. has not filed any charges. However, your support was essential in assisting the Nieto Family to obtain an appointment with the D.A.! Thanks!

MEETING/ WHO WAS THERE!

On Friday May 16th, D.A. Gascón explained the investigation process led by his office to the Nieto Family. This was strictly a legal meeting between the two parties. The Nieto Family was accompanied by their legal representative, Adante Pointer. Ben Bac Sierra was present as a friend of the family.

TAKEAWAYS!

The Justice & Love for Alex Nieto Committee is now able to inform on the takeaways from the meeting:

  • D.A. will seek to expedite the completion of the medical and forensic report (Medical Examiner’s Report). D.A. Gascón cannot conclude his investigation until he receives the Medical Examiner’s Report. Once available, he will make the “findings and analysis sections” of the Medical Examiner’s Report available to the public via his office’s website.
  • D.A. will give family courtesy of informing them of his decision prior to making any public statements about his decision or own Report. However, he cannot make a decision until the Medical Examiner’s Report is obtained.
  • D.A. stated that SFPD’s Report is also pending reception of the Medical Examiner’s Report.
  • D.A. will be investigating any and all criminal acts that took place, before, during or after the shooting. The latter includes SFPD follow-up investigation after the shooting. (For example, the interrogation of the Nieto Family in the aftermath of the shooting, the burglary of the car, any misrepresentations to the media, possible tampering with evidence, etc.) All criminal acts will be investigated in connection to the killing of Alex Nieto.
  • D.A. informed the Nieto Family about available grief counseling.
  • D.A. acknowledged that this is a Community Case. D.A. Gascón expressed understanding that this is a community case followed closely and supported in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

In summary, some information was gained from the meeting, but we all agree that actions will speak louder than words. Therefore…

COMMUNITY ACTION POINTS

The Justice & Love for Alex Nieto Committee believes that until criminal charges are filed in relation to the police killing of Alejandro Nieto, the District Attorney will be part of the system that delays, and therefore, denies justice to the Nieto Family. Here are some things we can do to motivate the justice system:

  • Supporters are invited to petition the D.A. to expedite access to the Medical Examiner’s Report relevant to the shooting of Alex Nieto. We will soon draft and put up a form petition. Without the release of this Report, no justice is possible.
  • Supporters are still encouraged to sign a petition to the DOJ.  We remain of the strong opinion that only an independent federal investigation into the homicide of Alex Nieto (and any related criminal acts) by the Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice will guarantee a fair and unbiased investigation.
  • Supporters are invited to attend Police Commission hearings. A member of our Committee has regularly attended these meetings. Please join us in voicing your own concerns about investigations into the death of Alex Nieto.
  • Join us in supporting the D.A.’s decision to investigate any and all criminal acts that took place, before, during or after the shooting connected to the unlawful killing of Alex Nieto.

Again, thank you for your support, and thank you for your patience in allowing us to gather this information so that we can report back to you.

The Justice & Amor Committee For Alex Nieto

10153857_10202805946581182_2544397991841358713_n

Nieto Family with legal representative John Burris and supporters, outside City Hall on April 14th, 2014 announcing filing of Claim against City.

 

Update: D.A. Gascón Will Meet With Family

Dear Justice & Love for Alex Nieto Supporters!

Today at a Pre-Mother’s Day Celebration Brunch*, Chief Assistant District Attorney Sharon Woo, accompanied by Lt. Guzman, extended an invitation to Elvira Nieto and her family on behalf of District Attorney George Gascón to meet with him next Friday May 16th, 2014.

Elvira Nieto at Pre-Mother's Day Brunch

Elvira Nieto at Pre-Mother’s Day Brunch, with A. Camarena

The meeting is a direct result of the family’s petition for an investigation into the shooting of Alex Nieto, backed by the 430 petitions signed by supporters, delivered this past 5 de mayo to the District Attorney’s Office. The D.A. kept their word, and responded within days with an offer to discuss how they are handling the investigation.

We hope this is a step towards achieving justice for Alex Nieto. We will keep you informed of the outcome.

Thank you for all your support!

The Justice & Love for Alex Nieto Committee

 

 

*“Because your special” Pre-Mother’s Day Celebration Brunch for Courageous Mothers of San Francisco was sponsored by Christine Pelosi, Democracy Partners; London Breed, SF District 5 Supervisor; Mattie Scott, Healing 4 Our Families & Our Nation; San Francisco Interfaith Council

For an update to this post please see:

Update: Takeaways from Meeting with D.A. (Friday May 16th, 2014)

 

Video: Nieto Family Petitions D.A. on 5 de mayo

Today, 5 de mayo, the parents of Alex Nieto -Elvira and Refugio Nieto- and members of Alex Nieto’s community petitioned San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón to pursue a criminal investigation into the police shooting of Alex Nieto, and delivered 430 petitions in support of such investigation by San Francisco residents. Lieutenants of Investigation Bobby Guzman and Van K. Jackson formally received the petition on behalf of San Francisco D.A. George Gascón. Lt. Guzman promised Elvira Nieto a response from the D.A. in a couple of days, so we ask:

D.A. Gascón will you respond to Elvira Nieto by Mother’s Day?

 

Please follow links to updates to this post:

(1) Update: D.A. Gascón Will Meet With Family

(2) Update: Takeaways from meeting with D.A. on Friday May 16th, 2014

Event: MEChXA @ CCSF for Cinco De Mayo – Justice for Alex Nieto

On Monday, Cinco de Mayo, join us en un dia de cultura, in honor of Alex Nieto:

  • Our Xicana feminists will be hosting a Make-Your-Own Pinche-Torta fundraiser for the event; half the proceeds will go towards Alex Nieto’s family members.
  • Live poetry will be presented by students and members of the community.
  • A Lowrider car show will be present as well.

LaMecha5mayo2014

 

Monday, 5 de mayo de 2014, noon
Ram Plaza at CCSF (between Student Union Building and Cafeteria)

 

 

This is possible with the collaboration of:

  • Gateway to College
  • Poetry for the People
  • The Latin American & Latin@ Studies
  • MEChXA de CCSF

Join the event on facebook!

UPDATE: Photos of event below.

CCSF 5mayo 5CCSF 5mayo 3CCSF 5mayo 4CCSF 5mayo 1

 

Event: 2014 Lowrider Love and Justice 4 Alex Nieto on 5 de Mayo

At the First Annual Cinco de Mayo Sandy Cuadra Lowrider Show in San Fran’s Mission, the lowriders showed and proved love for our fallen brother Alex Nieto! The homeboys honored Alex by having and displaying Alex’s flier on their low low’s dashboard. Enjoy the lowriders, music, and community, and share this video far and wide.

Tomorrow we will be having a Cinco de Mayo celebration in honor of Alex at City College of San Francisco. This was Alex’s dream: a combination of education, lowriders, poetry, food, music, and, of course, amor!

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with us this coming Monday, May 5 from 12-2 at City College of San Francisco’s Ram Plaza. Authentic education. We will see you there 🙂

News: Bac Sierra delivers “Mayday!” distress signal for Alex Nieto on May 1st

Media coverage: S.F. MAY DAY RALLY ENDS WITH ARRESTS

(05-02) 12:22 PDT SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds marched through the Mission District on Thursday evening to commemorate May Day, a date originally meant to honor the struggles of working people that has evolved into a worldwide event to advocate for human rights.

The event began with a rally at 24th and Mission streets, where about 75 people gathered just after 4 p.m. to hear speeches from activists representing a variety of causes and movements.

The event ended hours later with the arrests of a small group of protesters. A police spokesman said 11 people were arrested for impeding traffic and disobeying a traffic officer.

Aztec dancers in traditional garb got the crowd fired up early before the first of nearly a dozen speakers started speaking.

“We are here to remember our ancestors who fought for the dignity of our communities today,” said Jason Wallach from the Center for Political Education. “We’re here because people are being forcibly displaced from this neighborhood and it’s time we called on the city administration for a response.”

Wallach said the death of Alejandro Nieto, a 23-year-old City College of San Francisco student who was shot and killed by police on Bernal Hill a month ago after officers mistook the Taser he was carrying for a handgun, had sent a shockwave through the community.

“Mayday! Mayday!” Benjamin Bac Sierra shouted to onlookers. “It’s a distress signal because we are in an emergency right now.”

After the last of the speakers wrapped up, the crowd, which had swelled to about 200, began marching north on Mission Street, with a police escort shutting down both northbound lanes to accommodate the marchers.

Chants of “Justice for Alex!” boomed from a portable sound system and workers from businesses along Mission Street came out to witness the commotion.

The peaceful march concluded at 16th and Mission streets, where Supervisor David Campos made a brief appearance to cheer the crowd on, leading a chant of “Si se puede.”

About 6:30 p.m., a group of roughly 35 people, some from Food Not Bombs, an advocacy group dedicated to fighting hunger, briefly took over the intersection and set up a table to serve food.

Police ordered the group back to the sidewalk. Some complied, but others stayed in the street and were quickly surrounded by officers carrying batons.

When two of the protesters tried to break through the line of police surrounding them, they were tackled by officers and loaded into waiting police vans.

Kale Williams is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: kwilliams@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @sfkale

Article: “May Day: The Nieto Family Story”

“May Day: The Nieto Family Story by Adriana Camarena, published May 1st, 2014 on Unsettlers

Refugio Nieto and Elvira Rodriguez (now Elvira Nieto) were born a year apart in the little town of Tarimoro, Guanajuato, known for its agricultural and handmade brick businesses.  Refugio was the eldest child in a family of eight, and Elvira the fourth in a family of nine children.  He was born into a family of campesinos, working for 12 pesos a day in the fields, which is why at 14 years of age, Refugio decided to become a ladrillero (brickmaker) earning 25 pesos a day.  Her family owned a plot and a pool bar that provided them with a subsistence income.  Both their fathers at some point joined the Bracero program, earning just enough money across the Border to improve the family futures by purchasing farm land.

Elvira ventured out to California in 1973, following her brother and sister to the Mission District of San Francisco.  Her first job was in a factory on 6th and Mission making bedspreads, and later in a garment factory sewing embellishments using machines that “ran at 100 kilometers per hour!” she exclaims.  Refugio headed out to California in 1978 to become a lechugero and tomatero in the fields close to San Jose.  At night, he slept with other workers among the machinery in the sheds, and remembers talk of Cesar Chavez organizing in Salinas.  Both were granted legal residency.  “It was easier back then,” says Refugio.

Though they had known each other as youth in Tarimoro, Refugio and Elvira fell in love in San Francisco.  In 1984, they decided to get married, travelling all the way back to Guanajuato to get their parents’ blessings. “Fathers of the bride were energetic in those days!” says Refugio with a wink.  On their return to California, Elvira refused to sleep in the shed in San Jose, and so they found their home on Cortland Street on Bernal Hill, making lifelong friends with surrounding families.

In 1985, Elvira landed a job as a housekeeper in a small tourist hotel on O’Farrell Street, and within the year, the young couple started their small family of two kids: Alejandro “Alex”, the oldest, and Hector, the youngest.  Afraid of losing a good job, but more worried about having their children grow up without parents, Elvira and Refugio made a critical decision to sacrifice the household economy for the sake of their sons, and Refugio became a stay-at-home dad.  They were poorer, but happy and safe.  Later, when the two little ones were old enough –about the time when Alex in 6th grade felt embarrassed to be walked to school by his Dad and promised to take care of his little brother–Refugio returned to work.  He worked for six years as a dishwasher at a Spanish paella restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf, and later with a waterproofing contractor in Richmond. When the company closed a few years ago, Refugio retired.

Alex and Hector bounded forward in their own lives.  Alex learned to be a community organizer since the age of 12, and a Buddhist pacifist, who dedicated his young adult life to developing a career in criminal justice.  He worked as a security guard at night.  Hector also became a security guard, with the added responsibility of providing for his daughter as a young father.

Today –May Day 2014– is Elvira’s first official day of retirement after working for 29 years as a hotel housekeeper.  Months earlier, Alex had started prodding her, “Mami, what are you going to do with all that time?  You have to do something that you’ve always wanted to do!”  She would laugh and answer,  “First, I’m going to rest.”  Refugio and Elvira could not have suspected that heading into the final stretch of a lengthy, difficult, often unfair work life, they would suddenly find themselves grieving the brutal killing of their eldest, Alex, by San Francisco police officers.

The shooting of Alejandro “Alex” Nieto
On Friday, March 21st, 2014, Alex Nieto (age 28) went up to Bernal Hill to watch the sunset and eat a burrito, before going to his security guard night shift at El Toro.  Bernal Hill was his respite since he was a child, and it was common to find him walking, sitting, or exercising on the hill.  That day he was wearing his security guard belt, with a holstered taser, and his new 49ers jacket.  In a Town Hall meeting after the shooting, Chief of Police Greg Suhr explained that a pedestrian on the hill called 911 at 7:11pm to describe a Latin male adult wearing a bright red jacket and a gun at his hip.  At 7:14pm, the caller, who stayed on the line while officers arrived on scene, described Alex as eating sunflower seeds or chips.  At 7:18pm, the same caller heard the shots that killed Alejandro Nieto.

From an available home security camera audio recording, we know that police first fired two shots, followed by a seven second pause, succeeded by approximately fourteen shots.  In the Town Hall meeting, Chief of Police Greg Suhr explained that Alex had raised his taser at the approaching officers from 75 feet away.  Officers fearful for their lives, shot Alex twice, and he fell to a prone position.  Suhr claims that wounded and fallen, Alex still raised his taser to track police officers with a red dot laser.  Suhr states that the four officers on scene felt threatened, once again, and plied him with bullets until he stopped moving.

An impossible version of events
His family and friends cannot believe the version of events narrated by the Chief of Police, because Alex was a friendly and peaceful young man.  His father emphasizes, “He was such a friendly person. We would barely leave the house, when he would be stopping a mom with a child, and start playing and talking with the baby.”  Refugio adds, “He probably had met many of the regulars on Bernal Hill Park. Whoever called the police, surely hadn’t been there long enough to have met Alex.”

Alex’s family and friends also cannot believe police version of events, because he was a student of police regulations and procedures.  He had participated two years at SF Police Activities League (PAL) as a youth, before choosing a Criminal Justice degree at City College with the aim to become a probation officer helping youth. He had just completed his program.

Alex CCSF (2)

Alex with professors at CCSF

His family cannot believe that Alex —knowledgeable in police behavior, regulations, and protocols— would have ever raised his weapon at approaching officers.  His father and mother both say, “It is impossible to believe.”

It is truly an unbelievable version of events that Alex, with his background in law enforcement, seeing officers with guns drawn would even consider touching his taser.  It is even more unbelievable that after feeling the impact of bullets and falling to the ground, knowing that he only had a taser and officers had guns that Alex would continue to track officers with the taser.  Police version of events are simply impossible to believe.

One of Alex’s best friends, Ben Bac Sierra —homeboy, author, and professor at City College of San Francisco— recently told El Tecolote newspaper, “I believe that profiling occurred in this case…. (The officers) hear his description—Latin male, 6-foot tall—and that causes them some intimidation, because he’s somewhat tall.  He has a red jacket on.  He has never been involved with guns, never been arrested in his life, but I believe they profiled him as some type of gang-involved individual,” added Bac Sierra.  “If Alex had been a blond-haired, blue-eyed, 6-foot individual with what appears to be a gun on a holster, eating a corned-beef sandwich—he may have been mistaken as an off-duty police officer.  There’s a mindset that occurred as they were approaching.”

The irony of this shooting is that Alex had at one point participated in the PAL.  His activities were interrupted by the closing of PAL after 9/11.  When the academy reopened, he didn’t return, but other of his classmates did and went on to become officers. Alex had friends in the police department.

The Nieto Family is mistreated by police
Eighteen hours after SFPD killed Alejandro, police officers decided to pay the family a visit.  Three officers showed up at the Nieto family home, under the pretext that they had come to inform the family about Alex.  Instead they interrogated the parents in English —they speak Spanish— fishing for information about Alex’s lifestyle.   Refugio stopped them, and told them they could not continue without a translator.  An interpreter was bought, and officers once again asked to enter their home.  Refugio asked if they had a search warrant, which they said they didn’t, but once again, officers insisted that they came to talk to them about Alex.  In this understanding, the parents allowed them inside their modest home and led them to the room where they receive guests, which is the family TV room and Alex’s bedroom.  Once inside their home, officers continued to interrogate the parents, placing hands on objects that attracted their attention in the room.  Seeing their behavior, Refugio demanded to know the reason for their visit “Are you here to inform us about Alejandro or interrogate us?”  The interpreter finally relayed the message: “Alejandro ya no está entre nosotros,” a literal translation of “Alex is no longer among us,” and that police had killed him.

Alex at a friend's wedding

Alex at a friend’s wedding

Consider the shock that Refugio and Elvira experienced at this moment…  Now consider that in that moment of shock, police asked the parents if they could have a few minutes to register the room.  Elvira didn’t care because she was too ill to care, crying out in her son’s defense that “They had nothing to hide!”  Don Refugio, on the other hand, feeling rising indignation and illness prohibited them from touching anything of their son’s.  He told them, “I’m feeling very ill, and if you continue touching anything, I will feel even sicker.”

The police officers left, but not empty handed.  With the car keys recovered off of Alex’s body from the shooting scene, the officers took his car from the street, without a warrant, nor notice to the family.  Refugio and Hector were left to worry that the car had been stolen… which in fact it was, by the police.  The inside of the car was completely stripped, and they also took Alex’s iPad from the car, without a warrant, nor notice to the family.  It wasn’t until Supervisor David Campos intervened that the family got the car back, insides destroyed.

An important question
When the interpreter told the family that police had shot Alex dead, Elvira demanded to know “Why?” An officer answered, because “he was a threat.”  To which Elvira retorted in anguish, “Couldn’t you have shot him in the leg?!”  Despite being in the throes of trauma and despair, Elvira asked an important question.

Police officers can only use their firearms when they identify a threat to their safety or the safety of others.  Each of the officers need to explain the threat identified that justified:

• The 1st shot?
• The 2nd shot?

Unfortunately, with the gigantic loophole established in regulations, officers might be able to justify that Alex was a threat just because they thought he looked like a threat.  So, they fired two non-lethal shots.  The Chief of Police says that, at this point, Alex was alive, but prone on the ground.  What then was the threat identified that justified:

Alex Nieto with family

Alex Nieto with family

•The 3rd shot?

And after this injury…
• The 4th shot?
• The 5th shot?
• The 6th shot?
• The 7th shot?
• The 8th shot?
• The 9th shot?
• The 10th shot?
• The 11th shot?
• The 12th shot?
• The 13th shot?
• The 14th shot?
• Or more shots?

Each officer needs to justify the threat that allowed him or her to keep unloading their firearm, bullet by bullet, ensuring the death of Alex Nieto.  At some point, these officers decided to kill him, even though Alex couldn’t possibly have been a threat.  An unlawful police officer shooting is a crime.

In any case, Chief of Police’s version of events and related police frequency dispatch audio provide evidence that Alex Nieto never threatened anyone. He is described as pacing near a bench, eating a meal on Bernal Hill. Another walker on Bernal told reporters that he saw Alex and though he didn’t like that he had a holstered weapon, “…he wasn’t threatening to me. He seemed like a guy just eating a burrito.

For those of us, who do not believe police versions of events, it makes sense that SFPD delayed notifying the family for 18 hours, pulling an all-nighter to fabricate a story that would make the public believe that they had killed an “outlaw.”  In the case of Alex Nieto, SFPD will never be able to sustain that storyline, because Alex was spiritually and professionally a man of peace and law. The only believable explanation is that racial profiling led those police officers to kill an innocent.

Unfortunately, citizens and residents of San Francisco have no access to facts that could provide an alternative explanation.  After Alex was shot, we do not know how police handled evidence or statements from officers and eyewitnesses.  All police activity is shrouded in obscurity by regulations and committees established to protect officers (not citizens.)  Not even the audio of the 911 call has been released, nor the medical examiner’s report.

mayday… mayday… mayday
Elvira should be celebrating her first day of retirement today, on May Day, alongside her husband, two grown sons, granddaughter, and extended family.  Instead, she has difficulty being in public since Alex died, and Don Refugio finds public speaking overwhelming, even though he diligently shows up for every event.  He says, “I feel like I am looking into a shattered mirror, without knowing who I am anymore.”  Elvira shakes her head, “After all the struggles we overcame to raise our children…”

This May Day is an opportunity to celebrate Elvira and Refugio’s outstanding work and family ethics, but also to stand by them in their plea for justice for their son, Alex Nieto.  Despite rights gained across the ages for workers and migrants, ‘May Day’ in old and new working class, migrant communities, such as Bernal and the Mission, still resembles a distress call against injustice and discrimination: mayday… mayday… mayday…

The well-known saying is “justice delayed is justice denied.”  With police holding all available information, ample opportunity to manipulate or hide the truth, with public transparency inexistent, and lengthy litigation as the sole means of gaining any answers, justice goes denied and police abuses go uncurbed.  Still, it is the police who on a regular basis claim that their lives are threatened by poor minority and migrant inhabitants of the City.

mayday… mayday… mayday…

This is a community distress call.

[Please consider donating to the Nieto Family]