The shooting of Michael Brown spurred a national debate over the militarization of police. Maryam Jameel reports on the lesser-known case of Alex Nieto, who was gunned down by San Francisco police.
Burritos on Bernal: 7th month anniversary of Alex Nieto’s killing, Oct. 21st, Bernal Hil
On October 21st, 2014, family and supporters commemorated Alex’s 7th month anniversary of being killed by SFPD, on Bernal Hill, with no answers yet as to the names of the officers who killed him, the original 911 call, police reports, or witness statements. We were joined on the hill by the wedding party of founding justice4alexnieto supporter Maria Villalta, who earlier that morning married Alex’s cousin Fernando.
Denhi (Cortland Street flower vendor and friend of Alex) brought blooms to decorate his memorial on his 7th anniversary of killing.
Ben Bac Sierra speaks to MECHA students on Oct. 22nd National Day of Action Against Police Brutality
On the National Day Against Police Violence, MECHA invited me to speak against arming CCSF Police:
“I am a professor, and I am a criminal. I am a criminal because I am brown, and criminal is code word for brown and black brothers. Arming CCSF police would be a direct message to brown and black people that City does not want them on campus. My soul brother City College student Alex Nieto was killed for eating a burrito in a gentrified neighborhood. We cannot allow City to become gentrified. Black and brown gente should be welcomed not scared away from college.
I say no to arming police. I shout–
Gracias to Raka Ely Flores for the great photos.
Police Commission Meeting, Balboa High School, Oct. 22nd National Day of Action Against Police Brutality
Nineteen years ago, the October 22nd Movement called for a National Day Against Police Brutality against police brutality, repression, and criminalization of minorities. On October 22nd —while the family and friends of Andy Lopez (13 years old) held his one year anniversary of homicide by Santa Rosa officer Gelhaus, and the family of O’Shaine Evans (killed by SFPD Officer Goff Oct. 7th, 2014) buried him in Oakland— families, friends and supporters of Alex Nieto crowded the Police Commission at Balboa Park High School on that date to demand accountability, and the names of the officers involved.
Alex’s parents and Adriana Camarena confronted the Police Commission with a diagram and the results of the autopsy report which shows Alex executed defenseless on the ground with eleven shots. Adriana demanded the names of the officers involved. Read more about the Autopsy Report here!
Youth with Chalk, accompanied by mentors Nina Parks and Jason Wyman, also spoke to confront the police commission about the negative role police play in the lives of brown and black youth, and the lack of compliance of the police community directives.
Jeffrey Staulcup, friend of Alex, confronted SFPD on their manipulation tactics by calling out the unnecessary use of Alex’s medical record of a one time internment for a mental breakdown, which was irrelevant to police killings. Likewise, Alex’s friend, Ely confronted SFPD on the tremendous lack of legitimacy that they now had in his eyes, when once upon a time, he had aspired to be a police officer.
Other community members spoke to the injustice committed to Alex and other victims of police abuse.
Thanks Nina Parks for the video footage.
…Just how did Alex Nieto die?
Yes, we know he died after police shot him on Bernal Hill as he waited for a bus headed to work. And yes, he died of gunshot wounds.
But asking how Nieto died can also address intent. SFPD Chief Greg Suhr maintains his officers mistook Nieto’s yellow taser for a gun, due to its laser sight. Nieto’s family dispute that claim, and filed a lawsuit to that effect. Now, they say they have evidence to back up their claims.
When 28-year-old Alejandro Nieto was shot and killed by San Francisco police, it took nearly six months for the Medical Examiner’s Office to release his autopsy. Two days ago the group Justice for Alex Nieto released a diagram of the gunshot wounds that killed him. …
Update 10/23 3:41 p.m.: SFPD spokesperson Albie Esparza responded to the Justice for Alex Nieto allegations with this: “Police do not execute, we fire until the threat has been eliminated.”
Giants Playoffs & Giants for Justice
Art by Oree Originiol
Oree’s modified poster of Alex Nieto includes a rallying call to “Strike out police brutality”.
Banners with this image were subsequently made and strung on a sailboat in McCovey Cove during Giants final playoff series home games.
A justice flotilla flies a flag
Soon after a mural appeared on La Galeria de la Raza billboard (northwest corner of Bryant and 24th Street) in time for Day of the Dead in the Mission to memorialize victims of police brutality in the Bay Area and beyond.
Art by Oree Originiol, Photo by Jean Melesaine
… Family members of Alex Nieto and O’Shaine Evans were present at the San Francisco rally. Nieto, a 28-year-old Latino security guard, was shot 14 times by police in a Bernal Heights park on March 21, after neighbors called 911 claiming his work taser was a gun. Police claimed that Nieto pointed his taser at them when they approached, and that they were unable to distinguish it from a gun, an assertion family members have questioned. His death inflamed tensions between long-time Bernal Heights residents, police and a growing tech industry gentrifier class, which some activists blamed for calling the police. Nieto’s family filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of San Francisco in August. …
… Over Columbus Day weekend, more togetherness was plotted. Juana Tello, an organizer with POWER, reached out to Alex Nieto supporters, because she and a few youth were thinking about doing an action at AT&T park before the Giants playoff game, starting Tuesday October 14th. On Wednesday and Thursday, Refugio, Elvira and I joined local activists, artists, and youth coordinating through local organizations, friends from the PICO Network (who had been in Ferguson), as well as peeps from Stop Mass Incarceration, at the Willie Mays plaza outside AT&T ballpark. We all wore our Giants colors, mixing passions for social justice with passions for baseball. We all love to belong to something together! Something bigger than us all, and that includes raising awareness about injustice. Organizers had made a colorful banner that read “Step up to the plate against police brutality!” and we held our big black and white banner “Justice for Alex Nieto.” Together we chanted: “Giants for Justice! G-I-A-N-T-S for JUSTICE!” and “Step Up to the Plate, End This Police State!” On Thursday, we were back out again before the game. This time our big banners had literally gone sailing in McCovey Cove with an impromptu justice flotilla. So we held smaller printed signs bearing messages such as “Frisco to Ferguson, Justice for Alex Nieto & Mike Brown.” Many passing fans (from St. Louis and San Francisco alike) raised their hands in solidarity to the chant of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” …
“…First, he provided us, especially the younger among us, that rare glimpse of our collective power before SFPD and other authorities that perpetrate and sanction or do nothing about official crimes like the murder,in nearby Bernal Heights, of Alex Nieto, an unarmed 28 year-old security guard and Giants fan, a crime considered emblematic of the police-as-gentrifier-protection-force that many, many Latinos still living in the Mission know all–too-well.
The heroic SFPD officer of which corporate media and their hipster underlings write in their articles and blogs is not our SFPD officer. Some of us grew up and know another SFPD, an SFPD like that led by former Mayor Dianne Feinstein, who many of us must thank for baptizing us with the batons of institutional violence and racism– and the “journalism” that papers over it with images of so many jailed and beaten “bad guys” our family members in SFPD talk about. Last night, I ran into my cousin’s thirty-something son, who I’d known as a laid back, gentle spirit before he was re-programmed in the police academy. When he saw me, he smiled, fist bumped me and then marched towards a young celebrant, yelling, “Move any closer and you’re gonna get smashed.” The city with division–winning, World Class baseball is also home to World Class divisions of race and class, even within our families. …”
…I repeatedly heard chants of “RIP Alex Nieto” and “RIP Mike Brown.” I saw lots of graffiti related to Alex Nieto’s recent murder by the SF police (for being a Latino in an upscaling and increasingly young-rich-white-males neighborhood) as well as slogans decrying gentrification. Fencing was pulled away from a super-luxury and super-egregious (racist, even; this particular complex is turning the “New Mission” cinema into “the Alamo” within this soon-to-be-former Latino area) development called Vida. An empty cop car parked on a side street was smashed up and covered in spray-painted words like “fuck the police,” and all the passersby who watched were gleeful, perfectly understanding the resentment toward cops in this neighborhood. …