By Michael Burkett
Some 50 protesters gathered Saturday at noon March 14 at Mission and 24th to protest against nationwide police brutality.
The protesters participated in National Blow the Whistle Day demanding “Justicia para Amilcar Perez-Lopez” (Justice for Amilcar Perez-Lopez).
Lopez was a 21-year-old Guatemalan immigrant and an English as a Second Language student at City College. He was killed by police on Feb. 26.
He was shot by plain clothes San Francisco Police officers Craig Tiffe and Eric Rebodi. (See related story news briefs)
The Mission protesters performed “guerrilla street theater” with whistles, passed out leaflets, displayed banners and demanded a halt to police brutality.
One man, who identified himself as Trevor, dressed as a fake police officer with a foam pig snout and plastic baton, harassing protesters and willing passers-by. Protesters blew whistles until he ran away.
Around 12:30 p.m. the protesters marched from Mission and 24th to the location where Lopez died. Protesters were carrying a black banner with photographs of 35 people, children, teens, young people and adults, who died in police actions nationally.
A picture of Alex Nieto, another City College student, shot by San Francisco police in March 2014 was on the banner.
The protesters marched up 24th street shouting and chanting to stop police brutality as well as demanding justice for Lopez. There were candles, flowers and posters in front of 4855 Folsom St. where Lopez had been shot.
On Folsom Street, a Latina, sympathetic to Lopez’s death detailed her cousin’s harassment by San Francisco Police. She said he was approached by police as he was walking, handcuffed and then assaulted by police.
Around 2 p.m. the protesters traveled to Fruitvale and Oakland to continue their action.
This local action was part of national protests carried out in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and other cities in the United States, leading up to Shutdown A14. This action happening April 14, calls for walkouts in schools, work, occupying buildings and protesting police brutality.
March 12, 2015
Open Letter to Chancellor Arthur Q. Tyler, City College of San Francisco
Dear Chancellor Tyler,
This letter raises an issue of extreme importance for the college and the communities it serves. On March 21, 2014 Alex Nieto, a long-time resident of San Francisco, a well-respected member of the community and a criminal justice student at CCSF, was shot dead by the San Francisco police near his home in Bernal Heights. On February 26 of this year, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, a 21-year-old Guatemalan construction worker and ESL student at CCSF, much beloved by friends and co-workers, was shot dead in front of his apartment in the Mission District by two plainclothes members of the San Francisco Police Department.
The shooting deaths of these two young men raise disturbing questions about racial profiling and the willingness of police to take the lives of Latino men without legal or rational justification. These unwarranted killings also raise questions about gentrification and its connection to the greater use of police force
On the evening of March 21, 2014 Alex Nieto was confronted by police as he sat by himself eating a burrito on a park bench, relaxing before going to his job as a security guard. When he got up to walk away, he was gunned down by four police. And while wounded on the ground, his body was riddled with bullets. Amilcar Perez- Lopez was shot in the dark of night in front of his apartment by two plainclothes police officers. He probably didn’t even know they were police, and because of his limited English, it’s likely that he didn’t understand their commands. The police contention that Amilcar was stealing a bicycle and that he was dangerous is strongly contested by neighbors and others who knew him. It is certain that the police who intervened in a dispute between Amilcar and another person had no idea what was really going on, yet the officers quickly decided to use deadly force, hitting the victim many times and sprayng bullets into surrounding homes.
The circumstances under which police officers confronted Alex and Amilcar suggest that the police showed little concern for the lives of the two young men, raising legitimate fears among people who might find themselves in the same situation. At one protest of Alex Nieto’s death, a woman who works with Mission youth said “Police have much more of a presence in the neighborhood now, and some City College students who look like Nieto are scared for their lives.” In the days following Amilcar’s death a number of people who knew him, and whose circumstances are similar to his, have had the courage to speak out at neighborhood vigils, expressing their terror of police. These are San Francisco working people and members of the community that City College serves. Since they are our students, it is incumbent upon you and the City College administration to speak out. Silence in these circumstances can be interpreted as agreement, even complicity, since police reacting with undue force and taking a human life without justification is a violation of that person’s human rights.
As chancellor of the college whose students have been killed, you have a professional and moral obligation to speak out and demand that justice be served and there be a stop to unwarranted police killing.
For those who may insist that public denunciation of the police await further investigation consider this: One, the police have already absolved themselves without so much as anything approaching a credible investigation and two, no justice will be possible without moral outrage and courageous action outside the workings of the so-called “criminal justice” system. As these words are written, the brave actions of students of Madison, Wisconsin are a call to us all to act.
Chancellor Tyler, what greater responsibility do you and your administration have than serving justice and saving the lives of our students–and people who look like them?
Finally, I wish to bring to your attention the call that is going out across the country that April 14, 2015 is to be a day of protests against police killings — no school, no work, no business as usual! — to demand an end to the kind of deadly and unjustified police force that have taken the precious lives of Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez-Lopez and thousands more!
Bruce Neuburger ESL Instructor, CVC
William Mc Guire
Margaret Hanzimanolis, PT F English
Allan Fisher CCSF Faculty and former President AFT 2121
Harry Bernstein Instructor, Music Department
Holly Stevens ESL Instructor, CNB
Steven W. Brown AIFD
Pamela Kamatani Instructor, Music Department
| Carol Jean WisnieskiKathryn Frei (CNB campus)