Letter to the Editor of Bernalwood

Note: This letter to the editor was sent by Maria Villalta to the Bernalwood editor in response to his article “Supervisor Campos Announces Support for Permanent Alex Nieto Memorial on Bernal Hill.” We invite supporters to leave a comment in favor of the permanent memorial as well, although it currently seems like Mr. Lappin is not approving nor publishing those comments sent by supporters of the Nieto Family.

To: Mr. Lappin, editor of Bernalwood
bernalwood@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Lappin,

My name is Maria Villalta, I was a friend of Alex Nieto and I am a member of the Justice and Love for Alex Nieto Coalition. I am responding to your post titled “Supervisor Campos Announces Support for Permanent Alex Nieto Memorial on Bernal Hill.” I am surprised at the tone of your article about the Nieto Family’s request for a permanent memorial for their son Alex Nieto on Bernal Heights. The request for a permanent memorial has been a long standing request of the family since the very early moments after his death, and I would assume that having a permanent memorial would be a proposal supported by the Bernal Heights neighbors who for two years and a half have kindly and generously supported the existing community memorial.

Soon after Alex’s death, his family, neighbors and community began keeping a memorial and altar for him at the site of his killing. Refugio Nieto maintains the altar daily on Bernal Heights along with anonymous community members who leave offerings of love and respect towards Alex. On the 21st of every month the community joins Elvira and Refugio at the altar, in prayer and celebration of Alex’s life. You are all invited to this upcoming month celebration of Alex’s life on Wednesday September 21st, 2016 at 6pm.

Establishing a memorial altar at sites of tragedy is a sacred tradition of Latino communities with deep ancestral and spiritual roots. An altar is a sacred place for sacrifices and gifts offered up to God, Our Creator. An altar is a place to show love towards our deceased. Memorials are official forms of altars; an important part of everyday American culture as well. Memorials allow people to remember a deceased loved one or an important public figure or event. The killing of Alex Nieto is now a historic event of the City that sparked a historic Latino social justice movement for love and justice over the senseless, avoidable and brutal killing of a young community member by the San Francisco Police Department.

As a San Francisco native I can tell you that many other native residents feel that Alex Nieto, a young, joyful, working class, student, and community organizer represents the spirit of the Latino Mission and Bernal Heights; a representation of the beautiful brown and black people that used to walk through these neighborhoods without questioning their safety or belonging to that land. The altar on the hill represents the ultimate sacrifice; a good life was lost at the hands of police. Alex was well known in the community, because of his dedicated community service since he was a youth. The brutal killing of Alex caused a lot of pain in our communities in Bernal and the Mission District and we should be allowed to mourn and uplift our beloved dead one.

In memory of Alex Nieto and in support of his parent’s demand posed to the Board of Supervisors this past September 13th, I am asking their Bernal Heights neighbors to join us in demanding the Board of Supervisors to issue a resolution for a permanent altar and memorial in his honor. To begin mending broken trust with the Nieto Family and their community, the very minimum the Mayor and Board of Supervisors could do is to provide the permits and resources to establish a permanent memorial for Alex Nieto on the hill. Have it be an act of restoration of all the trauma SFPD has caused the brown and black communities decade after decade. Let it be a protected space were we can safely grieve and be assured that any vandalism to the site will be prosecuted. We have asked that the City and County of San Francisco also pay for this memorial as it paid for the bullets that killed Alex. Whichever reading of the facts you wish to have and whichever stance you may have on a justice system that systematically sides with police, Alex Nieto’s killing by SFPD caused great harm in our Latino community and that harm needs to be mended by an act of restoration by the City. A memorial could mark a new beginning in which deathly use of force by SFPD is the last resort and sanctity of life the first principle of its police force.

On September 13th, your neighbors Elvira and Refugio Nieto petitioned the Supervisors of San Francisco to support a permanent memorial for their son Alex Nieto. We were accompanied in our request by Justice for Amilcar Perez Lopez, Justice for Luis Góngora Pat, Justice for Mario Woods Coalition, Compañeros del Barrio, the Church of St. John Coltrane, La Raza Students Organization in Hastings Law School, District Candidate Isawari España, Our Mission No Eviction, the Cultural Action Network, San Franciscans for Police Accountability, Poor Magazine, and the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, alongside many individual supporters who showed up for the Nieto Family at the press conference prior to our public comment petition.

We invite you to support our demand to the Board of Supervisors to restore harm caused by this City to Alex Nieto, his family and our Latino community with a permanent memorial at the site of the ongoing community memorial. The Nietos are considering a commemorative bench would be nice and plaque, but with our request approved we will welcome community input around a proposed memorial.

A permanent altar and memorial gives old school San Franciscans hope: Hope that the City we love and hold dearly to our hearts will attempt to restore our broken relationships with authorities and allow family, friends and the community to know about their past and design a better future together. According to Tyron Edwards, “Quiet and sincere sympathy is often the most welcome and efficient consolation to the afflicted.”

Thank you,
María Villalta
A friend of Alex Nieto, San Franciscan native, and member of the Justice & Love for Alex Nieto Coalition

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Supervisors commit to an ordinance for a permanent Alex Nieto memorial! How supporters can help…

Press conference and rally

September 13, 2016. City Hall, San Francisco, CA.-

Refugio and Elvira Nieto held a press conference outside City Hall to demand from the Board of Supervisors a permanent memorial on Bernal Heights for Alex Nieto.  In response, Supervisors Avalos and Campos expressed their commitments to support a resolution to the Board of Supervisors for a permanent memorial for Alex Nieto (see Live Videos on Justice 4 Alex Nieto Facebook group.) Danzantes opened the press conference with a prayer and friendship dance.

Specific statements of support were made by Ben Bac Sierra, María Villalta and Oscar Salinas members of the Justice & Love for Alex Nieto Coalition, Father Richard Smith of Justice for Amilcar Perez Lopez, Maria Cristina Gutierrez for Black and Brown Unity as part Compañeros del Barrio and Justice for Mario Woods Coalition, Archbishop King of the St. John Coltrane Church, United Playaz, Mayra Hernandez Co-Chair of La Raza in Hastings Law School, Luis Poot Pat of Justice for Luis Góngora Pat, Tony Serrano Garcia of Justice for Yanira Serrano Garcia, Isawari España, Roberto Hernandez from Our Mission No Eviction, and Rae from Cultural Action Network. Other groups in attendance and support included San Franciscans for Police Accountability, Prensa Pobre, and the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, alongside individual supporters who showed up for the Nieto Family.

Family addresses Board of Supervisors

After the press conference, supporters waited inside City Hall to provide public comment at the regular Board of Supervisors meeting. Public comment did not open until around 8 o’clock. Despite the long wait, many supporters remained to accompany the Nietos to demand a permanent Alex Nieto memorial.

Refugio Nieto addressed the BOS to explain how he goes everyday to pray an Our Father for Alex Nieto at the site of his killing, but is sometimes incapable of even saying a prayer because he might find the altar vandalized and in need of repair. He spoke of the cruelty of having to face such acts of hate, but also spoke of the many acts of care and love of others who made offerings to the altar. Elvira Nieto spoke to the Supervisors of her son, who was a good son, a good worker and student, who hoped to have children of his own one day, and asked for a permanent space to grieve and set up offerings. Both parents  spoke of the loss and the fact that the City had so far failed to give any adequate response for the killing of their son, Alex.

About a dozen supporters supported the Nietos by asking the Supervisors to recognize that harm had been done to the Nieto Family and the Latino community; that altars carried cultural significance to the Latino community; that the request for a permanent and protected altar and memorial was a most basic act of restoration; that Alex’s death was tied to gentrification policies of the City that allow newcomers to arrive in droves to the Mission without understanding the cultural differences and their privileges in the communities of color they come to displace and inhabit; that there has been no change in policing policies enacted; and that the memorial could stand to symbolize a break with the past and new era in which police end their brutal use of force against black and brown people of the City.

Supervisors Avalos and Campos commit to support an ordinance

In chambers, Supervisor John Avalos committed to drafting an ORDINANCE ordering a permanent memorial for Alex Nieto. Supervisor David Campos committed to be in support. While a resolution would only be a recommendation from the Board of Supervisors, an ORDINANCE would be a law ordering the memorial to be established. This was an important day for the Nietos and the justice & love for Alex Nieto movement.

Supervisor Avalos promised to draft and submit an ordinance to the Board of Supervisors within the next two weeks. In other words, by Tuesday September 27th.

How supporters can help:

Once Supervisor Avalos fulfills his promise and submits the ordinance to the BOS, we request that supporter:

  • Show up again for public comment at the Board of Supervisors to express themselves in favor of the ordinance.
  • Organize with their coalitions to have a lobbying day at City Hall in support of the permanent Alex Nieto Memorial and Altar.
  • Call their district supervisor and demand their support for the ordinance. Below is the list of supervisors and their office numbers and emails.
John Avalos John Avalos
District 11
(415) 554-6975 – Voice
(415) 554-6979 – Fax

John.Avalos@sfgov.org

David Campos David Campos
District 9
(415) 554-5144 – voice
(415) 554-6255 – fax

David.Campos@sfgov.org

Malia Cohen Malia Cohen
District 10
(415) 554-7670 – Voice
(415) 554-7674 – Fax

Malia.Cohen@sfgov.org

London Breed London Breed
District 5
(415) 554-7630 – Voice
(415) 554-7634 – Fax

London.Breed@sfgov.org

Aaron Peskin Aaron Peskin
District 3
(415) 554-7450 – Voice
(415) 554-7454

Aaron.Peskin@sfgov.org

Jane KIm Jane Kim
District 6
(415) 554-7970 – Voice
(415) 554-7974 – Fax

Jane.Kim@sfgov.org

Eric Mar Eric Mar
District 1
(415) 554-7410 – Voice
(415) 554-7415 – Fax

Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org

Mark Ferrall Mark Farrell
District 2
(415) 554-7752 – Voice
(415) 554-7843 – Fax

Mark.Farrell@sfgov.org

Scott Wienter Scott Wiener
District 8
(415) 554-6968 – Voice
(415) 554-6909 – Fax

Scott.W

Norman Yee Norman Yee
District 7
(415) 554-6516 – Voice
(415) 554-6546 – Fax

Norman.Yee@

Thank you ! We’re going to make the permanent Alex Nieto Memorial and Altar a reality!

Maria Villalta: A permanent altar and memorial for Alex Nieto would be an act of restoration from the City

My name is Maria Villalta, I was a friend of Alex Nieto and I am a member of the Justice and Love for Alex Nieto Coalition.

For two and a half years, Alex Nieto’s family has maintained a memorial and altar on Bernal Heights at the site of his killing. Refugio keeps the altar along with anonymous community members who leave offerings of love and respect towards Alex. On the 21st of every month the community joins Elvira and Refugio at the altar, in prayer and celebration of Alex’s life

Establishing a memorial altar at sites of tragedy is a sacred tradition of Latino communities with deep ancestral and spiritual roots. An altar is a sacred place for sacrifices and gifts offered up to God, Our Creator. It is a place to show love towards our deceased. Memorials are official forms of altars; an important part of everyday American culture. Memorials allow people to remember a deceased loved one, an important public figure, or event. The killing of Alex Nieto is now a historic event of the City that sparked a historic Latino social justice movement for love and justice over the senseless, avoidable and brutal killing of a young community member by the San Francisco Police Department.

As a San Francisco native I can tell you that many other native residents feel that Alex Nieto, a young, joyful, working class, student, and community organizer represents the spirit of the Latino Mission and Bernal Heights; a representation of the beautiful brown and black people that used to walk through these neighborhoods without questioning their safety or belonging to that land. The altar on the hill represents the ultimate sacrifice; a good life was lost at the hands of police. The brutal killing of Alex caused a lot of pain in our communities and we should be allowed to mourn and uplift our beloved dead.

In memory of Alex Nieto, I stand here side by side with the Nietos to demand that the Board of Supervisors issue a resolution for a permanent altar and memorial in his honor. To begin mending broken trust with the Nieto Family and their community, the very minimum the Mayor and Board of Supervisors could do is to provide the permits and resources to establish a permanent memorial for Alex Nieto on the hill. Have it be an act of restoration of all the trauma SFPD has caused the brown and black communities decade after decade. Let it be a protected space were we can safely grieve and be assured that any vandalism to the site will be prosecuted. I ask that the City and County of San Francisco also pay for this memorial as it paid for the bullets that killed Alex. A memorial could mark a new beginning in which deathly use of force by SFPD is the last resort and sanctity of life the first principle of its police force.

A permanent altar and memorial gives old school San Franciscans hope. Hope that the City we love and hold dearly to our hearts will attempt to restore our broken relationship and allow family, friends and the community to know about their past and design a better future together. According to Tyron Edwards, “Quiet and sincere sympathy is often the most welcome and efficient consolation to the afflicted.”

Supervisors of San Francisco, will you accept our invitation and support our demand to restore harm caused by this City to Alex Nieto, his family and our Latino community?

alex-nieto-banner_48x30_2

 

Ben Bac Sierra: A BOS resolution to establish a permanent memorial in honor of Alex Nieto, unlawfully killed by SFPD

WHY AN ALEX NIETO MEMORIAL?

In order to honor Alex Nieto, a permanent memorial will be established at Bernal Hill Park, the place where he was unlawfully killed by the SFPD.

Through no fault of his own, Alex Nieto, a 28 year old full-time student and security guard who had never been arrested in his life, was shot at fifty nine times and killed by SFPD officers. Even though there were many witnesses that claimed Alex had done nothing wrong and was just peacefully eating his burrito, the San Francisco District Attorney did not pursue criminal charges against officers. Then in a civil trial that clearly evidenced the lies, corruption, and cover-up surrounding Alex’s murder, the SFPD killers were released of liability by a mostly white jury that was comprised of no Latinos or African-Americans.

Note the undisputed facts that shame San Francisco:

  • Officer Schiff, the rookie officer who first began shooting, stated in open court that Alex he saw Alex’s forehead scrunch up. He also stated he made eye contact with Alex’s “angry eyes.” It was proven that Alex Nieto was wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses when he was killed. This was confirmed by a large hole defect in the hat that aligned with the shot in Alex’s head. Alex’s brain matter was found in the hat. Officer Schiff blatantly lied.
  • A disinterested witness who saw the police kill Alex asserts that Alex was casually walking down the hill with his hands in his pockets when police officers yelled “Stop” at Alex and then immediately began firing two volleys of shots at him, killing him.
  • Four witnesses claim that they heard the police shots fired and clearly distinguished two volleys, one volley and then a ten second pause followed by one longer and more intense volley of bullets. This pause would clearly indicate that the killing of Alex Nieto was unlawful. The police officers could not have been under a constant threat as they claim if they waited ten seconds in between volleys and then continued firing again.
  • When the criminal investigators arrived after the killing and took pictures of the scene, the taser was turned off. There is absolutely no way that this taser could have emitted a red laser beam or ejected taser wires. The police officers are clearly lying about the red laser beam that they say they saw that justified them shooting. The public should also question whether Alex Nieto ever exposed any taser.
  • Alex Nieto sustains all the fatal wounds described above, including shots to his head, lung, spine, wrist, and forearm. It could simply not be possible that Alex Nieto could have continued to hold a taser in this condition, as the police officers claim. There are no pictures of Alex holding any taser or of him with his hands and arms extended downhill.
  • Most importantly, most convincingly, ALEX NIETO’S WRIST BONE IS FOUND IN HIS LEFT JACKET POCKET. There is absolutely no explanation for how that bone could have been in his jacket except, as the first-hand witness claims, Alex Nieto’s hand was in his pocket, not pointing a taser, while Alex Nieto was being killed by the police. This, of course, totally refutes the police narrative.
  • After the case, on social media Officer Morse, one of the killers of Alex Nieto, threatened the Nieto family.
  • If you still have questions about the case, visit the following site for accurate information.

In order to begin repairing broken ties with the community, the SF Board of Supervisors can stand with the people against corruption and lies. They can take a stand for human rights and establish this memorial dedicated to Alex so that the dismantling of crooked power can finally begin. The entire SF Board of Supervisors can join justice for posterity purposes, for amor.

 

Parents Demand a Permanent Memorial for Alex Nieto on Bernal Heights

Tue. Sep. 13th 1pm front of City Hall. Press conference followed by rally and public commentary to BOS

Elvira and Refugio Nieto and the Justice & Love for Alex Nieto coalition are formulating a demand to the Board of Supervisors to support establishing a permanent memorial for Alex Nieto at the site of his killing on Bernal Heights. The family is asking for the memorial as a minimal gesture of acknowledgement of the senseless and brutal killing of their beloved son and for restoration by the City of the harm caused by SFPD to Alex Nieto and his family and community.

“For two years and a half, Alex Nieto’s family and community members have maintained a memorial and altar for him at the site of his killing. Establishing memorial altars at sites of tragedy is a sacred tradition of Latino communities with deep ancestral and spiritual roots. If the City wants to begin mending broken trust with the Nieto Family and their community, the very minimum the Mayor and Supervisors could do is to provide the permits and resources to establish a permanent memorial for Alex Nieto on the hill”, says coalition member María Villalta.

Photo album of the Community Altar & Memorial for Alex Nieto since March 2014
https://flic.kr/s/aHsk3btZep

Adriana Camarena another coalition member states, “The killing of Alex Nieto is in itself now a historic event of the City, which spurred a historic Latino social justice movement of the City. Rather than continue to ignore its significance, the Board of Supervisors has an opportunity to acknowledge the harm done to the Latino community. With a permanent Alex Nieto Memorial the City can publicly grieve the loss of life at the hands of police officers. A memorial could mark a new beginning in which deathly use of force by SFPD is the last resort and sanctity of life, particularly of black and brown people, the first priority.”

Responding to the fact that the Nieto family lost the civil trial against the City in March 2016, Ben Bac Sierra, member of the Justice & Love for Alex Nieto Coalition, said “An unbiased analysis of the facts revealed at the civil trial shows that SFPD officers racially profiled and unlawfully killed Alex Nieto for wearing a 49ers jacket while holding a burrito and walking in his own neighborhood park.” Please click here for a full statement by Ben Bac Sierra about the unlawful killing of Alex Nieto. For further information about the Trial click here.

Oscar Salinas, another member of the Justice & Love for Alex Nieto Coalition, who like Alex Nieto, María Villalta and Ben Bac Sierra was born and bred in the Mission and Bernal Heights, gave further context to the demand, “Everyone knows that the death of Alex Nieto and gentrification are tied together, because newcomers such as those who called 911 against Alex, have no sense of respect for established communities. We are asking the City to dedicate a tiny piece of land, sacred now to Latinos in San Francisco, to commemorate and honor a native son of the City, who was brutally killed by its officers. Consider our humble demand to the City by contrast to the massive real estate demands made by developers, like the Nick Podell and his Beast on Bryant. The Latino community is clamoring for respect and action from the Board of Supervisors to end the forced displacement of the native sons and daughters of the Mission and Bernal Heights neighborhoods, and honor Alex Nieto who was killed in the context of irresponsible gentrification policies.”

The Nieto family and supporters are asking the Board of Supervisors to issue a resolution and ordinance to establish a permanent memorial on Bernal Heights Park with official city permits and resources. The Coalition will also explore the possibility of renaming the park, The Alex Nieto Memorial Park.

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1112752778807233/

#Justice4AlexNieto

#AmorPorAlex

#EndPoliceImpunity