By Cassie Ordonio
Chants of “No justice, no peace” roared throughout Civic Center as demonstrators marched outside of San Francisco’s Federal Courts Building to City Hall during the first day of slain City College student Alex Nieto’s civil trial on March 1.
Two years after the shooting of Nieto, the trial began to review evidence of unlawfulness by four San Francisco Police Department officers who fired approximately 48 bullets, thinking Nieto had a gun. When retrieved, the alleged gun was actually a Taser for his security job.
Benjamin Bac Sierra, co-founder of Justice and Love for Alex Nieto coalition, introduced the crowd outside the courthouse to Nieto’s parents, Refugio and Elvira Nieto, before they went into to the trial.
“They are our heroes,” Bac Sierra said to the crowd. “They have shown dignity and given us an example on how to fight for our loved ones.”
Fists raised high and cheers erupted while the Nietos walked toward the Federal Courts Building. The Nietos were still grieving yet their faces expressed anxiousness for the days ahead.
“We miss Alex very much, and we want to thank our supporters,” Elvira Nieto said in a press release. “During these past two years, you’ve never forgotten us.”
“The physical evidence will show that Alex Nieto had his hands in his pocket and that the did nothing wrong.”
—City College English Instructor Benjamin Bac Sierra
A ceremony was performed before speakers delivered their messages. Following the chanting by Buddhists from Soka Gakkai International, the smell of sage calmed the spirits of the rally gatherers as they watched Aztec dancers.
One of the Buddhists, Jeffery Staulcup, was a good friend of Nieto. Friends since 2008, Staulcup said Nieto came to chant at least twice a week with the community.
“I was in denial,” Staulcup said. “He was extremely nonviolent, very pacifist and he had a large vision and a thirst for education.”
A core member of the coalition, Adriana Camarena, said that additional information was revealed through an extended legal discovery process that gave the family access to the independent investigation records. In November 2015, the city tried to dismiss the case, but officials said it would take a jury to decide a verdict based on the evidence.
Outraged by police profiling, the Justice for Mario Woods and the Justice for Amilcar Perez Lopez supporters joined the Justice and Love for Alex Nieto coalition at the rally.
Police Chief Greg Suhr told ABC 7 News that it was a tragedy, but thought the officers did what they felt like they had to do.
“That’s illogical for us to believe,” Bac Sierra said. “The physical evidence will show that Alex Nieto had his hands in his pockets and that he did nothing wrong.”
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