Procession to Mark Nine-Month Anniversary of Neighbor Alex Nieto’s Death, as Vandalism Strikes Memorial Again


Within the last month, the officer-involved deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York City have become the focus of intense protest across the country. Yet much, much closer to home, this week marks the nine-month anniversary of Bernal neighbor Alex Nieto’s death in an SFPD officer-involved shooting on Bernal Hill.

Many of the circumstances surrounding Neighbor Alex’s death on March 21, 2014 remain unknown. An autopsy report was (belatedly) released, but the names of the officers involved in the shooting have not been made public, no grand jury has been convened, and the City’s formal investigation into the incident remains maddeningly opaque.

On Sunday, December 21, Alex Nieto’s family and friends are holding a procession and Mexican Posada to remember Neighbor Alex:

4pm @ 24th Street and Mission Street (BART Plaza on Northeast corner):

Opening ceremony & words by families who have lost loved ones in 2014 to police brutality.

Confirmed visiting families:
Family of Yanira Serrano Garcia (killed in Half Moon Bay). Family of Antonio Lopez (killed in San José)
Friend and/or family of Errol Chang (killed in Daly City)

Sidewalk procession to Bernal Hill.

@ Bernal Heights Park, Alex Nieto Memorial Site, northside slope: Words by family and supporters of Alex Nieto.

Closing ceremony.

Walk to site of Mexican Posada, to be announced on hill.

Additional details about Sunday’s event can be found on the Justice 4 Alex Nieto website.

Separately, Alex’s parents, Elvira and Refugio Nieto of Cortland Avenue, report that their memorial to Alex on Bernal Hill was recently vandalized yet again. This time, the entire memorial was taken, leaving nothing behind. This video shows Elvira and Refugio Nieto rebuilding part of the memorial to their son:

IMAGE: Video still of Bernal neighbors Elvira and Refugio Nieto, parents of Alex Nieto, on Bernal Hill, December 16, 2014

15 thoughts on “Procession to Mark Nine-Month Anniversary of Neighbor Alex Nieto’s Death, as Vandalism Strikes Memorial Again

  1. I’m sorry that people keep taking down the alter but I am beginning to sympathize with those that are taking it down. While I sympathize with the family and understand their traditions and the importance of this alter to them, the memorial is quite large and takes from the parks natural beauty. From the video, it seems like the family has permanent plans to keep the memorial up. I wonder if there is another solution that might be proposed to them. Perhaps a memorial that isnt so large? I’m not saying we’re even close to this point, but at what point does this cross over into vandalism?

  2. While I think so as well, the important thing is to get the family on board and open that dialogue. I think proposing a bench is a wonderful idea. I wonder if there might be any others?

  3. This reminder to the community is important. Those in charge of investigating this killing benefit by stalling and foot dragging until the event is out of mind and everything is settled behind closed doors. We need them to do their jobs transparently and in a reasonable amount of time. There is truth in the saying, ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’.

  4. Thank you for the thoughtful and compassionate comments, John. Quite apart from who was right or wrong, the complete lack of transparency or accountability on the part of sfpd/city of sf is unconscionable. And currently in violation of a judge’s order to release info!

    Of course a permanent bench/memorial has been discussed from the beginning. The cost for working people is prohibitive, and there’s been a moratorium of some kind on city approval for benches, yet fundraising goes on nonetheless. All of this info has been available on their website for nine months now . . .

    Donation info, also available on their website: Donations can be made by visiting any Wells Fargo branch nationwide using a check, cash, money order, and through Bill Pay Online, or mailing a check to a local branch. Please make checks payable to “The Alex Nieto Memorial Fund.”, Account number: 8641805745

    • Just have a small metal plaque made in tribute, and attach it to one of he benches. Don’t wait for the city.

  5. Not a fan of it, but then at the same time, it’s a physical representation of the City of San Francisco dragging its feet over a death they were involved with.

    As long as the cop’s identities are kept secret, I support keeping the memorial up.

    How would you feel if almost a year after your child was killed by someone that you aren’t even allowed to know by who? And that no (or little) investigation or grand jury has been held?

    • +1. I generally don’t like the co-opting public property in this way, but I think it’s a reasonable act of civil disobedience to keep a small memorial up in the face of the city’s reticence around this issue.

  6. Every time the altar is vandalized or removed, it strenghthens the families conviction that justice is not being served and that a part of the local community is directly at fault. And who in their right mind would blame them?

  7. According to Mission Local’s article not one not two but FOUR police offers decided to fire at Nieto. This makes it essentially impossible that it was a rogue “bad cop” who killed him execution-style. The story that Nieto drew his taser at the police and threatened them is thus almost certainly true. Tasers as the activist must embarrassingly admit can be fatal and a police officer has every reason to use decisive force against one being brandished. If they could even tell under the circumstances that was a taser and not a gun, as I understand they had been told it was a gun by the 911 calls.

    Suicide is extremely common in society (viz the Golden Gate Bridge) and suicide-by-cop is one of the most gruesome and asinine ways to do it. It happens about once a day in the USA and victimizes the police officer who are trained and authorized to use lethal force against a physical threat. If and when the city releases the names of these officers they will be tried and convicted or cold-blooded murder in the court of public opinion even though the evidence will likely be conclusive they acted in justified self-defense against an armed assailant with a violent history who had refused to take his necessary antipsychotic medications.

    These people often find their lives hopeless and meaningless and making their suicides a political cause of an ethnicity against the police grants their heinous and inexcusable act a glorification that helps no one and only encourages more suicides-by-cop. There were plenty of mistakes made in handling Nieto’s life…he should never have been given a taser given his psych history, should have been incarcerated under the mental health act as a threat to others especially once he refused medication…but making further mistakes in hindsight of all that is arguably less excusable. Pack it up.

    • Then of course there’s the risk that the activism will inspire and give justification to those who would act out violently in reprisal against other police officers. But anyone suggesting such an awful scenario is even possible clearly has an agenda and is simply trying to get the oppressed to give up their righteous resistance and quietly accept the indignities of their status.

    • I’ve been thinking about your conclusory statement “According to Mission Local’s article not one not two but FOUR police offers decided to fire at Nieto. This makes it essentially impossible that it was a rogue “bad cop” who killed him execution-style. The story that Nieto drew his taser at the police and threatened them is thus almost certainly true.”

      I talked it over with someone who investigates police shootings for city governments. He pointed out that your statement is a common, but often dangerously erroneous conclusion. The fact that multiple officers decided to fire in no way supports the conclusion that a shooting was justified. What can happen is that one officer begins shooting and the other officers, assuming that the officer is in danger of his or her life and is firing in self-defense, begin shooting as well. Apparently, this is a well-known situation in police shootings involving multiple officers. The fact that four officers decided to fire does not by itself tell us anything about whether the police version of events is “almost certainly true”, and people need to keep that in mind.

      We do not have enough facts yet to draw conclusions about this shooting. The case was investigated separately months ago both by police detectives and by the SFPD’s own internal investigation unit, but unfortunately the facts gathered in those investigations have not been released to the public or the press, in part because this is regarded as a confidential police personnel matter and therefore protected from disclosure by law. So, nine months after the shooting, neither the SF Office of Citizen Complaints or the family and their lawyers have access to the investigation.

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