Sad and Shameful: Alex Nieto Memorial on Bernal Hill Plagued by Vandalism

anieto-vandalized-e-1

For those who knew Alex Nieto, the young Bernal resident killed during an officer-involved shooting on Bernal Hill last spring, the last few months have been unrelentingly sad — and at times, deeply alienating.

Bernalwood recently described how the official investigation into Neighbor Alex’s death seems unlikely to provide much factual insight or emotional closure — ever. Which is horrible. Yet more immediately, the family and friends of Alex Nieto have been infuriated by multiple instances of vandalism targeted at the ad hoc memorial to Alex constructed at the site where he died on the north side of Bernal Hill, just west of the Folsom gate.

(Preemptive Sidebar: In the recent Bernalwood update on the Nieto investigation, some readers were unhappy about the presence of this private memorial on the public land of Bernal Heights Park.  Bernalwood reader Adam K. very graciously and compassionately addressed this by placing the memorial within the Latino tradition of creating temporary memorials to honor those for whom death has come suddenly and unexpectedly. Adam’s comments are consistent with Bernal values in the best possible way, and are highly recommended.)

The first report about vandalism of the Nieto memorial appeared on the Justice for Alex Nieto website on July 13:

We are sad to report that in the past two days the memorial altar to Alex Nieto has been vandalized. Someone first took the banner that said “No Más Violencia de la Policia” (No More Police Violence) and last night, the cross (with his portrait) set close to the site of his death was removed. Alex’s parents —Elvira and Refugio Nieto— tirelessly refresh flowers and maintain the banner and altar. Yesterday, knowing about the mysterious loss of the banner, we gathered with Windsong (a City College student, a Bernal Hill dweller since childhood, and the original designer of the banner) to design another one that we intended to place again today. We suspended any judgement about why the banner disappeared, but with the loss of the cross, it is a clear malicious act.

The damage was quickly repaired, but the memorial was vandalized again on July 22, and yet again on the 23rd. A vigil was started to keep watch over the site, but during a lapse in coverage during the early morning hours of July 26th, the memorial was vandalized a fourth time. The vigils resumed, and with them came a stronger sense of solidarity — and community:

In the wee hours of Friday July 27th, Maria and Adriana [from the Justice and Amor for Alex Nieto Committee] watched the sunrise over the Bay. By 6:30am Refugio Nieto arrived with La Gorda (the 3 year old family blue pitbull.) They drank coffee made by Adriana and chatted and chatted. Harried dogwalkers of all sorts began to roam the hill. La Gorda whined for the other dogs to come visit her, and they often obliged. We began laughing about how everyone, even little old ladies, looked suspicious to us. We have our favorite suspect (one who seemed to be holding a can of spray paint).

There comes a moment during the morning on Bernal, when the stream of dog walkers and joggers becomes continuous and the Memorial is kept by the same life on the hill.

The last weeks on Bernal have been illuminating. We have learned that we have countless of anonymous supporters among the daily walkers on the hill. Even before the vigils began, while we were on the hill repairing the site, pedestrians often stopped to thank us for keeping the Memorial alive: Russell expressed how much he loved the Hill for its diversity and neighborliness, and expressed his sorrow at Alex’s shooting. Homeboy Reynaldo stopped to stay he’d be happy to cover Alex’s Story in cholo magazine. Adriana and Maria even met one of the last people to have seen Alex alive on the hill. (Don’t worry, he already gave his witness statement.) All in all, the more time we spend on the hill, the more people who come around respectfully and curiously to ask us questions and learn about Alex’s Story.

Yet once again, on July 29th, the site was vandalized, as someone removed the photo of Neighbor Alex that hung on the memorial cross.

Last weekend, Justice and Amor for Alex Nieto Committee posted photos and a video of a man whom they believe may be responsible for the vandalism. They seek community input to help identify the alleged vandal.

Yet to anyone who may have defaced the Alex Nieto memorial on Bernal Hill, we would simply say this:

Stop.

Please.

Just stop.

The death of Neighbor Alex Nieto brought immense pain to his family, his friends, and our community. Let the grieving run its course. Let the healing commence. Let it be peaceful, and let it remain undisturbed. Please. Just stop.

windsong.nieto

ALL PHOTOS: Justice and Amor for Alex Nieto Committee

94 thoughts on “Sad and Shameful: Alex Nieto Memorial on Bernal Hill Plagued by Vandalism

  1. I understand the family’s need for a memorial, so perhaps if their preferred public location for a memorial isn’t embraced by the community, they need to put it in a private location. Not everyone agrees on the events that led to Nieto’s death, so by making his memorial so public, they open wounds within the community about what happened, and not all the viewpoints are sympathetic.

    • I agree. A mentally disturbed man pulled what appeared to be a gun on police officers. The officers shot him. It’s sad yes, and it must be very hard on the family. But it’s not an excuse to set up camp in a public park. I don’t think of it as vandalism…more like picking up garbage. I’m tired of seeing it and so are a great many others.

      • If you died how many people would tend your memorial or gravesite?? The ugliness of your comment leads me to think not many. I do not know what happened or who is/isn’t at fault but I do know that calling the Nieto memorial “trash” is a soulless thing for you to do.

      • then look somewhere else! You don’t have to agree with the circumstances surrounding his death, that the police were at fault, etc. It’s a memorial to someone who has died. It’s meant to be temporary, just leave it be.

      • “I think we can spare a couple of square feet of public space”

        Who put you in charge?

        “If you died how many people would tend your memorial or gravesite??”

        That’s completely beside the point.

        “then look somewhere else!”

        Memorialize your loved one’s death privately. Thank you.

  2. What’s really sad is the if you read the banner it was clearly paid for by their “ambulance chaser” lawyer, John Burris. Bottom right hand corner. Funny thing to put on a “memorial” if you ask me. Burris is a callous scum bag.

    • Wow, that sort of changes how I feel about this. I would 100% support a memorial for the first year. As big as they want. But there should be zero advertising on the memorial.

      • The website that hosts the photos of the alleged memorial vandal is also maintained by the Law Offices of John Burris. See administrator at the bottom right hand of the site: http://justice4alexnieto.org/

        If you have any information regarding this case, please contact
        Adante Pointer
        Law Offices of John Burris
        adante.pointer@johnburrislaw.com
        510-839-5200

        This does not appear to be maintained out of any sense of grief. Grass roots or Astro turf? What do you think?

    • This is a request for witnesses to the event to contact the family’s lawyer. It’s not an advertisement for the lawyer and it does not say that it was “clearly paid for” by the lawyer. Who knows who paid for the banner? More importantly, who cares? Remember, grief takes all forms, and a search for answers is one of those forms. I don’t see any problem with a memorial serving both as a rememberance of the departed and as a tool in a search for answers.

      • The incident was videotaped by the police and witnesses were ID’d at the time. Why do they spell Alex’s name as Alejandro? Could it be that’s how they refer to him in the lawsuit filed against the city? Alex’s legal name is likely Alejandro. While it does not say the memorial banner is “paid for by law offices of John Burris,” it’s pretty likely it was. The “family’s” website would also appear to be hosted by Burris. This is all about greed and a lawsuit against SF worth millions of dollars in my opinion.

      • Thanks for the link, George. What I learned about Adante Pointer is that he graduated from Berkeley High School, graduated from UC Berkeley undergrad, and graduated from UC Hastings law. These are all great schools. I learned that he’s a lawyer specializing in civil rights and criminal defense.

        So what’s the big deal? What’s the problem with this guy?

        Is it that he practices civil rights and criminal defense? You know that our legal system is adversarial, right? That in order for ANYBODY to be criminally prosecuted in our court system they have a right to a lawyer, right? And that if they don’t have a lawyer representing them they system breaks down, right (pro se representation excepted)? Well, same thing with civil rights: it might be nice to think that you can just pass laws (or Constitutional amendments) and they will magically be followed by everybody, but that’s not how the world works. Somebody has to enforce those laws. And when the government (or agents of the gov’t) are the ones accused of violating the laws, somebody other than the government has to step in and enforce the laws OTHER than the government. So way back in the 1870s, after the Civil War, to deal with all the recalcitrant southern government officials who were not following the law, Congress passed laws giving private citizens the right to sue government officials when they were accused of violating the law. Later, in order to provide an incentive for those private lawyers to bring those kinds of cases, Congress provided a means by which, if the lawyer is successful, they can get their attorneys fees paid by the government defendant. Congress was so worried that the laws would not be enforced that they created a whole mechanism and incentive system to get private lawyers to do the work! And history has shown that the system works: there exist lawyers who specialize in this kind of law and who therefore frequently bring these kinds of cases; that’s how they make their living and that’s how the law gets enforced. Just FYI, the same incentive system exists in many other laws that govern government agencies, like environmental statutes (endangered species act, clean water act, clean air act, etc.), consumer protection statutes, public information statutes (freedom of information, etc), and plenty of others. None of this makes a lawyer specializing in this law an ambulance chaser, a scam artist, or whatever. When they win, they get paid, and when they lose, they don’t get paid. They weigh their chances of winning vs. their need to get paid in every case and they don’t bring scam cases (other laws prohibit that in fact). This is all BY DESIGN.

        It’s time to get off this idea that because the Nieto family hired a well-known and successful civil rights lawyer to represent them that their grief and sorrow are in any way lessened or illegitimate. There are a number of reasons to hire a lawyer in this situation, all of which are valid: to help get answers for Alex’s death, to challenge SFPD’s lethal force policy and to possibly change that policy and the SFPD’s practices; and yes, to compensate the family for their loss of their son. The family, and all of us, will get answers out of this lawsuit no matter if it is successful or not (i.e., no matter if the use of deadly force was legal or not); considering the manner by which the police interviewed the family after the incident and considering their failure to provide important evidence (videos, reports, autopsy, etc) to anybody in a timely fashion, I think it makes a lot of sense to hire a lawyer to force them to answer these questions. SFPD is not going to answer them unless forced to, that’s the reality. Second, if it turns out that SFPD has a deadly force policy that violates the law, or it turns out that these officers violated SFPD’s deadly force policy, a lawsuit is the most effective way to get those policies or practices changed. That’s just a reality of our legal system and our government system. And if either of those things is true (that SFPD or the officers broke the law), then our system provides for compensation for the family and loved ones. The only way to get that compensation is through a lawsuit. Again, that’s just the reality of our legal system.

        Dismissing this memorial and the family’s and Alex’s grief and their search for answers, and yes, their anger at who they believe is responsible for Alex’s death and their efforts to change the environment and conditions that brought along that death is easy to do, especially when you think that it’s all being orchestrated by someone with a political axe to grind and dollar signs in their eyes. But this is an ignorant position to take. Like I said earlier, grief takes all forms. Anger is one of them. Searching for answers is another. Wanting justice is another. The fact is it’s all part of the same legitimate process, unfortunately one that is well-trod, and thus we know it will take time. Maybe the lawsuit will prove the police acted incorrectly, and maybe it will prove that they acted correctly; we have no idea. What we do know is that our neighbors are sad and angry. We can believe that this is all a scam, and attack them for it; belittle their printed banner, condemn them for hiring a lawyer, call them names, ignore their tears, deny them their anger, stomp on their flowers, etc. But even if we’re right, we’re not in the right doing any of this. Compassion is doing the right thing even when there’s nothing in it for you. It’s based on the other person, not based on you. They’re suffering; we know that. Giving them their space to suffer seems like the least we can do.

      • Alex, my opinion of this sort of lawyer is not nearly as high yours. I don’t care where the guy went to school. He preys on people like the Nietos and you and I as taxpayers foot the bill for this guy’s lavish lifestyle. Fleecing the public is not noble.

      • Adam K –

        In response to your lengthy and incredibly well articulated statement, I couldn’t agree more. From the little actual facts I do know about what happened (I was not there so all I can do is base my assumptions on what has been reported) I tend to think the police *likely* acted lawfully in response to a REASONABLE perceived threat that, horribly was incorrect in hindsight (responding to numerous 911 calls about an unstable person wielding a gun, only to arrive at the scene where said individual is carrying (and possibly points) that same object which they had every reason to believe during those exigent circumstances was a firearm — only to find out it was a taser that had some very gun-like visual characteristics). That said, I am happy to be proven wrong once the facts are elucidated through the LEGAL PROCESS.

        Furthermore, I am skeptical of the events and actions of the police following the killing — I do find their treatment of Mr. Nieto’s family (searching his home before telling them he had been killed) to be tone-deaf at best and criminal at worst, and I sincerely hope that this lawsuit, and the attention brought by it will help flesh out any police or government misconduct.

        I myself am an attorney (so perhaps I have an added appreciation for the drawn-out adversarial process that will hopefully lead to additional accountability of our government officials and representatives), but I appreciate your well-reasoned and level-headed breakdown of why it is disturbing for people on this blog to be throwing out the words “ambulance chasers” and calling Mr. Nieto’s family greedy for simply seeking accountability and answers from people in power who represent us taxpayers.

        I don’t know what the outcome of this case will be, but hiring John Burris’ law firm should not in and of itself be some sort of assumption that the Nieto family is greedy or out to profit off of this incident. I guarantee you they would rather have their young son alive than be dealing with this nightmare.

        Regarding the memorial, I will confess that every time I see it on the hill, it does give me a funny feeling that I do not really enjoy. I am skeptical of the bold face statements of police brutality (because I think there is likely a legal justification for what happened), but that doesn’t mean that my queasiness should stop a family from grieving in the way they choose. If that means putting up a memorial in a public space that makes some people uncomfortable, then so be it. If you don’t want to see a memorial about this, then don’t go up on the hill. This is part of the fabric of living in an urban environment. There will be people who put things in your face that you don’t like.

        Some of the actions and statements by mourners and supporters of Mr. Nieto do give me some pause — I think tying this incident to gentirifcation is an oversimplification, but I understand that they are in pain and I can see how they might perceive the complex series of events leading to his death (at least in part) to be caused by the fact he was Latino in an increasingly homogenized white enclave.

        The bottom line is that this is an unbelievably sad and unfortunate event all around. For people to be lobbing insults at a grieving family is inhumane. To be uncomfortable about a memorial is one thing, to be defacing a memorial is another – it is immoral and completely unacceptable.

        While it is likely no good will come out of this, hopefully, at a minimum, it will give some people in our community a chance to reflect. It’s not pretty; it is politically and racially charged, but no matter what happened that night, it cannot change the fact that a man is dead, way too young.

        RIP Alex Nieto.

      • +1 to Infernal Heights. A nuanced overview.

        I know these two things for sure: 1) A young man died tragically. 2) Not one of those officers wanted to kill him.

        Anyone who says otherwise is cruel, and only worsens the sorrow.

  3. I’m not seeing “The Guy” vandalizing anything. It would be one thing to have proof and another to toss a label.

    • I’m not seeing it either. Seems kind of nasty to post someone’s picture accusing them of vandalism when he’s just walking through the park. Wrong. Bad judgement.

      • Thank you, thank you for that very reasonable observation. He did not vandalize anything. He lives in Europe and was on holiday in San Francisco this summer. His family are very upset about this campaign (we have friends and family in San Francisco and the Mission). He was passing by and looked at the memorial. Someone watching imagined that he “threw pebbles” and on that basis has put up the “vandal website”. We have contacted the campaign and the lawyer in question asking them to resolve this error as soon as possible. As yet, no reply.

  4. When you said “…Adam’s comments are consistent with Bernal values…” I am assuming you meant “…Adam’s comments are consistent with Bernalwood values…”, yes?

    • Exactly.

      “The Latino tradition of creating temporary memorials.”

      All one ever sees are permanent memorials along roadsides. There’s an anglo tradition of not creating such memorials. Why doesn’t Bernalwood respect the majority who don’t create such memorials?

      • My friend, I would urge you to count to ten, re-read your own comments here, and try to imagine how you sound to someone who does not share your own point of view.

        I do not expect anything written above to be persuasive to you — and that’s just fine. This is a place where honest and robust discussion is encouraged.

        Given the circumstances, however, I do think your indignation seems disproportionate and callous. Again, that is your prerogative. But please understand that you speak only for yourself, and I have no reason whatsoever to believe that your views represent some sort of silent majority of Bernal neighbors.

        If I I had been one of Alex Nieto’s friends or family members, I would be disgusted to see this kind of hostility expressed here. As it stands, I’m simply embarrassed that your attitude might in any way reflect upon me or any other Bernalese who are untroubled by the presence of a temporary memorial to this tragedy on the hill.

      • Thank you Todd, very well said.
        Byrd Bodega, I firmly believe that your comments reflect nothing near a majority of the thoughts of the Bernal community. And I firmly believe that Todd’s thoughts do.

      • Todd – You must already be able to “imagine how you sound to someone who does not share your own point of view.”

        Sanctimonious, in case you can’t imagine.

        It’s sad that the Nieto, a long time resident with ties to the community, was killed. I’m sympathetic to the family’s pain. I hope a just resolution is found.

        But a lot of people don’t want to revisit what happened every time they go to Bernal hill, and the family’s desire to have a semi-permanent memorial in a public space is not universally embraced. You might consider this to be “disproportionate and callous,” but I would say it’s realistic, and it’s why you don’t see such memorials around the city already.

      • Thank you Todd for your reporting on this issue and your ongoing attempts to foster compassion and tolerance as Bernal values. I am shocked at the vitriol expressed by some of our neighbors both on Bernalwood and through this vandalism and I am glad that you are here to call them on it.

        I started out relatively sympathetic to the police and their story about being called upon to confront an apparently armed man in our park. But your excellent reporting and editorializing on the initial community meeting, the content of the memorial marches and then on an official investigation worthy of Kafka has made me much more considerate of the “justice for Alex” take on the events that led to the shooting. Now this repeated vandalism – and then the haters hating on the memorial in the comments here has revealed a pretty surprising and ugly strain of intolerance and selfishness in our community.

        I sincerely hope that this shocking hostility is from a vocal minority and that most of us look to support each other in times of hardship. So thank you for continuing to push us as a community to be more generous and compassionate. You have certainly helped shift my own take on the event and its aftermath.

        Neighbors: Let’s make our aspirations for Bernal values a reality by stopping this heartless vandalism and letting the friends and family at the memorial know that we support them in their grieving and their search for answers and justice. We don’t have to agree on whether the officers were justified in shooting that evening to see that our neighbors need our support.

  5. It’s a memorial. Just leave it alone. When someone dies at the side of the road, people put a cross up. This man died in the park – the circumstances don’t matter. He died there and that’s his memorial. Show some respect.

    • Please.

      Show some respect for the fact that people die all sorts of places all the time without a permanent memorial wherever they happened to die.

      Many, if not most, people don’t want to be reminded of Nieto’s death every time they visit the hill.

      • Wow – you really are callous. Like I said, the circumstances of his death don’t really matter. The fact is he died, close to where this memorial is, and it’s temporary. Why do you care so much? Did you know him? The park is public and it’s being used by the public to place a memorial. I’m sorry you don’t agree. A lot of people use the park in ways that I don’t – does that mean they shouldn’t be able to? The memorial is not hurting anyone with it’s presence.

      • Have to agree with Oscar regarding Byrd. A little compassion goes a long way and it’s temporary. The family needs support regardless of the circumstance. I believe this was suicide by cop, but have no issue with a memorial the size of the Transamerica Building.

      • I don’t really care that much, except when people claim the memorial is temporary, and then turn around and complain that it’s being vandalized.

        If it’s temporary, then what does it matter?

      • Keep digging, man. Keep shouting your opinion here and presuming that you speak for some majority.

      • They spray painted pictures of Nieto with “BROWN LIVES MATTER” all over the place, sidewalks, parklet walls, etc. Racebaiting and in your face with it.

        I have no problem with a tasteful bench being dedicated to Nieto in the park with the city’s cooperation. But all of this is an effort to rub salt in the wound and keep the agony rolling. It’s not bringing us together to make this a race issue or even a police brutality issue. This was a mental health issue.

  6. If the vandal is the guy shown in the video on the Alex Neito website, maybe the problem would be solved by moving the memorial up the hill a bit. That out of shape old man couldn’t climb a ladder, let alone the hillside.

    With that said, if the vandal ISN’T that guy, or is actually a number of different people who all have feelings about how Alex Neito died (and both his behavior and the behavior of the police that led to his death) then maybe it’s time to consider that not everyone in the community wants the memorial to remain in that location. That is public land, and those residents have just as much right to not want the memorial as the Neito family has for wanting it. That in no way justifies vandalism. Vandalism is, frankly, never justifiable (whether it is desecrating a memorial, or spray painting property you don’t own)

  7. I think Byrd Bodega is the vandal. Or, possibly, just some drunk teenagers who have no political or personal intent.

  8. whelp… I gotta say, I love that hand painted memorial in the last photo – it’s purty and it jest feels right. More of that kinda thing. Not a big fan of banners and billboards… anywhere really. Keep it simple, Familia Nieto… peace shouldn’t oughta be complicated.

    as for all you folk upstream that gots various thorns stuck up yer cranky beehinds, give it a rest – yer in danger of losin the respect of even yer mother at this point.

  9. This article is great! The Alex Memorial Site is a reminder that an injustice was committed. Most Bernal neighbors have been incredibly kind and supportive. I encourage readers to learn more about Alex’s Story, killed by SFPD on March 21st, 2014:
    – Consider first that officers are only allowed to use their weapons if they identify a threat to themselves or anyone around them. Alex Nieto is described by eye witnesses -including the 911 caller- as having a holstered weapon, while eating. He is never described as threatening. Never is he described as threatening. (Except of course by the police, because they can only justify the shooting by saying they felt threatened.)
    – Alex Nieto was a full time scholarship student at CCSF, and had just concluded his Administration in Justice Degree. He was fully knowledgeable in police protocols. His family and friends find police version of events impossible to believe. He was an intern at the probation department.
    – Alex was an upstanding citizen, participating since a teenager as a volunteer in electoral campaigns, including Bill Clinton’s, Amiano’s, and others.
    – Alex was raised on Bernal Heights. His home is a few blocks away from a path to the hill. He routinely walked, exercised, walked his dog, and ate a meal on the hill. He regularly ate dinner watching the sunset before going to his shift.
    – Alex worked by night so he could study by day. Hence, he worked as a night shift security guard at El Toro. Everyone who knew him there describes him as calm and kind with a great sense of humor. The day SFPD killed him, he was wearing his licensed holstered TASER, as part of his work uniform.
    – Alex was a practicing Buddhist, who held life as a central value. By all accounts of people who knew him, he was a peaceful and law abiding person.
    – The supposed R.O. was never granted. Alejandro did have an R.O. on the man who claimed to have filed one, because he had been attacked by this man before. Only after Alejandro defended himself did this other man pursue an R.O. that was never granted.
    – SFPD released the identity and their story to the press before notifying the family. When they went to the family home (18 hours later) they harassed the family with questions to draw a negative profile of Alex and only on demand of the parents did they reveal that SFPD had killed Alex. They attempted to search Alex’s room without a warrant AND they STOLE Alex’s car without a warrant. Only through various inquiries did the family find that the police had taken and stripped the car with the keys from Alex’s body.
    – On June 2, the City formally denied any responsibility; therefore on Aug. 22nd the family will file a civil rights case.
    – The D.A. had promised to expedite the release of the Medical Examiner’s report which is stalling all investigations into the case (including the D.A.’s and internal SFPD homicide investigation.) However, there is serious concern that D.A. Gascon will not follow through on a criminal indictment considering he is the former Chief of Police of SF and a career police officer. Hence supporters are asking for a federal investigation into the death of Alex Nieto.

    Join the March for Civil Rights against Police Killings! You are invited to march with your neighbors (the Nieto Family), on Friday, August 22 • 12 noon from Alex Nieto Memorial, Bernal Heights Park ring road, north side to Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco. More info here: http://justice4alexnieto.org/2014/08/05/alex-nieto-rises-aug-22-2014-noon-march-for-civil-rights-against-police-killings/

    Thank you for your consideration, and remember that in this case, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE SUPPORTING SFPD’s VERSION OF EVENTS. It is a contested version of events that is going to trial. If you believe in the justice system, then you must also insist that the City be transparent about the evidence it has withheld (911 calls, photos, videos, police reports, autopsy report, and witness statements). Read more here… http://www.justice4alexnieto.org

      • Bubba’s got a point. This rant condemns the police and a whole bunch of others. No evidence supports any of these statements. Let’s move on and wait, and we will have to wait, for the facts.

      • Oscar, I say with deep respect to a friend that has passed…

        “Alex’s Story, killed by SFPD on March 21st, 2014”
        “THERE IS NO EVIDENCE SUPPORTING SFPD’s VERSION OF EVENTS. It is a contested version of events that is going to trial.”

        This is misleading without any way of supporting the statements. There is evidence and accountings from neighbors. I’m sorry, but there is. Peace be with you.

  10. Hello,

    My name is Oscar and I am a friend of the Nieto family. To answer a few a of these comments. NO the banner is NOT paid for by the law office of John Burris. John Burris’s information is on the banner so if anyone wants to come forward with any information to please contact the Nieto families legal representative. As for Byrd Bodega Elvira and Refugio Nieto have lived in the Bernal Heights neighborhood for decades. There son use to come up there to have his lunch. Its the last place he was alive. If your son, daughter or whatever family member was killed would’t you want to memorialize them? How does it disturb your life? What if someone in your family was killed and they stomped all over their memorial, how would you feel? If it could happen to Alex it could happen to anyone of us. Oh by the way I noticed you deleted your profile because I clicked on it 🙂 BOTTOM LINE ALEX NIETO IS LATINO AND EVERYONE ON HERE IS WHITE AND YOU DON’T LIKE US LATINOS. IF IT WAS COLBY OR SKYALR I’M SURE YOU GUYS WOULD ALL BE UP THERE GRIEVING AND US LATINOS WOULD BE THERE WITH YOU BECAUSE WE ARE NOT EVIL PEOPLE!! WE ARE HERE TO STAY AND THAT HILL UP THERE WHERE YOU WALK YOUR COCKER SPANIELS, GREYHOUNDS, POODLES OR WHATEVER YOU BUY WITH YOUR MONEY IS OUR HILL. We were here way before your you! We will camp in front or anywhere up on that hill to protect the memory of Alex Nieto. I grew up on Precita 286 1/2 to be exact and if you want to continue this conversation face to face. I will be on that hill every day 🙂 Again my name is Oscar and I’ll be wearing the beanie and a shaved head with a goatee. Come talk to me. Que Viva Alex Nieto!!!

    • Well we now know thanks to Oscar what this discussion is about. Apparently more to do with race and gentrification than mourning the death of Alex. In common parlance it’s called passive aggressive. Very sad.

      • George, Oscar has a valid point, much the same as the middle class being pushed out of SF. The truth is if it were my dog, there would be hell to pay. Someone would need to loose their job and there would be a pay day. Most of us new residents through hard work and dedication to career have turned Bernal into something long time residents could never think of. We care more about our self indulgent worlds, with little thought about those who have lived here for decades.

    • You won’t win many allies with that attitude. There are black, hispanic, white people on my street who have lived here longer than Alex was born. There is nothing worse than the, “I was here first, so I’m right” attitude.
      It’s very presumptuous to assume everyone on here is white and doesn’t like Latinos. You won’t win many friends with that accusation.
      Cities and demographics are always evolving. Before the hispanic families were in this part of San Francisco, someone else was here.
      I’m willing to bet that the most recent census data for this neighborhood would show the greatest mix of people here EVER! You won’t win many friends by arguing that’s a bad thing.

      • READ what he stated: WE ARE HERE TO STAY AND THAT HILL UP THERE WHERE YOU WALK YOUR COCKER SPANIELS, GREYHOUNDS, POODLES OR WHATEVER YOU BUY WITH YOUR MONEY IS OUR HILL.

        Don’t be a tard

      • I don’t think Oscar is trying to make allies. More like speaking the truth. There are class, race, and gentrification dimensions to this tragedy that cannot and should not be swept under the rug; that are likely to be a motivating factor behind the defacements. So I appreciate the raw, honest emotion of Oscar’s words.

        At the same time I know you’re right, nsfw. Its no more Alex’s hill than its mine or yours.

        But, having raised my two, 20-something kids here on this hill from birth, Bubba strikes a nerve when he states, “What if someone in your family was killed and they stomped all over their memorial, how would you feel?” I’m ashamed, Oscar. Offended. Incredulous. And hoping that those of us that do share “Bernal values” come out in support of the Nieto family in their time of grief. This is a polarizing incident. This does bring out divisions of race, class, and identity. Hopefully Bernal remains a place where we can confront those divisions and stand together so we can all claim this as our community, our hill, hour home.

    • Well, before the neighborhood became a Latino cultural stronghold in the 40’s, it was filled with German, Irish, Italian and polish immigrants. Before that there were Spanish Europeans and before that native Americans. It belongs to no one.

      • I’m a Native American and have a roll to prove it. It belongs to my people, then the mixture of my people with the spaniards. Everyone else is just a tourist. Your people butchered mine, stole land, raped and pillaged. Congrats, you win, but I still make more money than you.

      • Exodus 14. My people were driving out of Egypt thousands of years ago but I’m not going to lay claim on Cairo.

      • See how politically inept this all is? “White people” don’t particularly love the cops because the cops give them speeding and stop sign tickets. But instead of trying to get “white people” to join them in pressuring the city for a big payout (and the cops to risk their lives assuming that’s just a taser being leveled at them next time) the Nieto agonists are claiming the “white people” are land thieves and occupiers that ought to be thrown out.

        Talk about dishonoring the dead.

        And please…if I die and you want to make a memorial, kindly leave off the QR code.

      • WoW. Suicide by cop? how did you come to that conclusion. Did you know Alex Nieto in person? I doubt it. Sounds to me that you are talking out of your anal sphincter.
        Just a little about Alex Nieto:
        Alex was a NATIVE San Franciscan born and raised in Bernal Heights
        He loved life.
        He loved his family and friends.
        He was a Buddhist.
        He also graduated from CCSF.
        His dream was to become a probation officer. To help young people.
        He worked as a security guard in a night club to support himself and his family.
        So I ask you RR:
        what makes you think he committed “suicide by cop”? are you a forensic psychologist?
        How did you arrive to this conclusion?

      • yep Oscar, suicide-by-cop, Native SFcans, and buddists, and even those loved by family and friends commit suicide…there is no template for people who commit suicide, but is often guilt and denial by those left behind…and now there is a eyesore of a public memorial leading to a ugly public discussion opening wounds that did not previously exist

  11. I am pretty horrified by a lot of the comments here. Callous doesn’t begin to describe it. I’m sad this is what members of our community have decided to rally against: a memorial to a member of the community who was killed. Whether or not the police thought their lives were in danger when Alex was shot, it doesn’t take away the reality that he was doing nothing wrong, and was killed in the prime of his life. Have a heart.

  12. Each bench on the hill is a memorial to someone who has died. One is dedicated to my neighbor who lived on the hill about 30 years. Alex’s memorial is just as valid. Additionally the hill holds the ashes of many humans and beloved pets. I hope to have some of my ashes spread on the hill or have a bench. What we all have in common is our love for the hill.

    Alex was killed on the hill and the circumstances of his death remain unresolved, making his memorial all the more poignant and disturbingly heart wrenching. I support his memorial remaining until there is resolution and then I would help contribute to a more permanent memorial like a bench if his family so desires.

    In the meanwhile I hope that whoever is defacing his memorial finds their humanity.

  13. Is Bernal becoming some nose-in-air-suburb suburb? Street art, murals, political stencils on the sidewalks and cultural displays, etc., are part of a vibrant urban scene.When you use the word ‘eyesore’ to describe a small public memorial that has zero impact on you, you sound about 90 years old. Nope, changed my mind: I’ve met 90-year-old who are pretty groovy. You sound like you’ve never stepped out of your own house.

  14. The term “Bernal values” has been used quite a bit in this thread. I think we either need to either define what they are or simply stop using the term. It’s quickly become weaponized and appears to make the users’ values superior to others. Not a good thing in an open discussion on a tough topic.

    If you Google Bernal values you get nothing but it will immediately take you to Bernal Heights property values sites. Human values is a more universal term. Let’s use that.

    • Personally, I find the term to be cringe-worthy, like some sort of private school code of conduct that we are all supposed to follow. Bernal is a neighborhood like any other, made up of delightful people as well as assholes. There is no screening process to become a Bernal resident (unlike an exclusive gated community), so the idea of a shared “Bernal Values” is just plain weird.

      • The armband and salute are not enough. Bernal values must be incorporated into all aspects of our daily thought and discourse, such that we become a more perfect society, driven by more perfect individuals.

      • Peter, we could then kick this up a bit and turn it into a local religion and use to become rich.

      • They just chose the wrong case to make a stand on. It’s wolf-cry. It loses the support of moderates and discredits the social justice argument. Their sympathizers will complain there’ll never be a perfect case to make a stand on, and the unfairness of our society validates any stand on anything. But that doesn’t work in practice.

        If a police lapel camera requirement comes out of this that may be a good thing. If the lapel recordings (and 911 calls etc.) of all police shootings are automatically a matter of public record, you might think it would help minorities. No actually it wouldn’t. For every case of arguable police misconduct galvanizing minority protest, there would be at least a dozen that white supremacists would hold up as clear evidence that minorities deserve slaughter. At least the rest of us might come to understand how hard it is to be a cop.

        It’s best for all of us that we insist on strong and independent oversight of our governing institutions, but keep these sorts of arguments out of the hopelessly uninformed and emotional public’s purview. If Nieto did not draw a weapon on the police, one hopes the balance of evidence would show that. The family has not been forthcoming with his psych history (they have a massive financial interest in not doing so to be sure), and in that light the police search of his home may have been justifiable. The court of public opinion is the worst place to host this trial.

      • Great post Peter. This is also a good case to simply avoid watching cable news networks where all kinds of stuff is debated endlessly by people who have no clue what they are talking about. Throw Twitter into the mix and you have a circus. This used to be called heresay, today it passes for journalism.

  15. If you look back, you will see that Bernalwood itself is the first to use the term Bernal values in this thread, referring to Adam K’s defense of the memorial against the haters. I very much appreciate the effort that Todd is putting in to help us as a community define what those Bernal values might be. It is our neighborhood and I think we can have this discussion if we want to have it. Also I don’t think the idea of shared values is weird or creepy – its the basis of civilization and community. Some values *are* better than others – for example generosity and compassion are better than mean-spirited selfishness and intolerance. You can live on our little hill without being screened, but we can as a community say: behave! And that includes not callously defacing a memorial to one of our neighbors who was shot on the hill we all share. Its not okay!

  16. Pingback: Procession to Mark Nine-Month Anniversary of Neighbor Alex Nieto’s Death, as Vandalism Strikes Memorial Again | Bernalwood

  17. Pingback: Civil Trial in Death of Bernal Resident Alex Nieto Gets Underway in Federal Court | Bernalwood

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