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SFPD-enforced gentrification killed Alex Nieto

March 27, 2014

Join the march on Saturday, March 29, for Alex Nieto at 2 p.m. from Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission St., to Bernal Heights Park, San Francisco

by Tiny, daughter of Dee

“We don’t want to hear Alex’s murderers,” people shouted intermittently into the air of the Leonard Flynn Elementary school auditorium. The standing-room-only town hall was yelling above the police as they spoke about the murder on March 21 of young Raza organizer, City College of San Francisco student and beloved son de la mision (of the Mission), Alejandro Nieto, 28, by police in Bernal Heights Park.

Alex (Alejandro) Nieto SFPD murder decried by packed town hall 032514 by PNN, web
The Mission packed a police-sponsored town hall to decry the SFPD murder of Alejandro (Alex) Nieto. Forty-50 police bullets struck Alex. – Photo: PNN


“At approximately 7:11 p.m., 911 dispatch received a call: ‘A Latin male in a bright red jacket is pacing near a fence,’” said SFPD Chief Greg Suhr as he recounted the events leading up to the murder of this peaceful young brother. My version of this 911 recount, “There is a Brown man left in the Mission. How did that happen? He must be here to hurt me.”

Gentrification killed Alex. Everyone in the meeting knew this. From the young children like my own son who goes to that humble public school, to the teachers, revolutionaries and abuelas waiting patiently to speak. The shooters were the gangsters in blue with their clique etched in a copper and iron star that they display on their chests.

“I am a friend and brother of Alex and I need to tell you that Alex wanted to be a probation officer. Alex respected the cops, so please respect the police,” said Eli Flores to the increasingly angered crowd.

Gentrification killed Alex. Everyone in the meeting knew this. The shooters were the gangsters in blue with their clique etched in a copper and iron star that they display on their chests.

“Alex was a peaceful, beautiful young man. He wanted to run for school board,” Guiliana Sorro, long-time Bernal Heights resident and organizer and widow of the leader and truth-teller Bill Sorro, told me between tears at the town hall.

“This was the weapon he was holding,” Suhr said, his voice prevailing through the intermittent shouts to recount the murder of this young leader by police who allegedly mistook his legally possessed taser for a gun. Alex was an off-duty security guard with a license to hold that taser.

“I used to be afraid of gangs with my two Latino sons. Now I am afraid of the police shooting them,” a mother of two testified at the town hall, holding back tears of a thousand lost sons.

“At 7:14, the 911 reporter reported that the ‘suspect’ was now eating sunflower seeds while resting his hand on the weapon,” Suhr added.

Alejandro (Alex) Nieto
Alejandro (Alex) Nieto
Alex, who was Buddhist, was meditating on the Bernal Hill. He was taking a walk he always took before he went on duty at a club. He was thinking. He was shadow-boxing. He was walking.

He was alive while Brown in his neighborhood, the Mission, a neighborhood suddenly and rudely colonized by people who don’t understand our cultura, our traditions or our skin. Who see a Black or Brown man walking, convening or meditating somewhere they now claim is theirs for “jogging” or “picnicking” and call us a criminal.

And then the kkkorporate media lies, crafted around Euro-centric, Western therapeutic industrial complex values conveniently roll out to rationalize the cold-blooded profiling and murder of a peaceful young man. “He was acting abnomal.” “He had a restraining order against him.” “He was struggling with mental health issues.” Multiple narratives have been rolled out since his shooting on March 21, all adding up to a vague profile of mental instability of this young son.

As the mental instability profile rolled out, I thought of my own troubled soul as I used to take my infant son up Bernal Hill to rest in some modicum of nature. I would cry up there. Cry about my houselessness. Cry about my very sick Black-Indian mama. I would pray in the Yoruba tradition, calling out my ancestors as I stood and built small oferendas to Orixas.

Even my melanin-challenged, white-looking self was at risk. I would get sideways glances from the endless onslaught of $300 athletic shoe-wearing yuppies. I clutched my son closer and quickly descended, realizing that this once peaceful mountain, long ago stolen from the indigenous Ohlone people was, in fact, being stolen again, by the new colonizers who hold iPhones and state-of-the-art headsets and heart monitors, leaving no room for us.

“I used to be afraid of gangs with my two Latino sons. Now I am afraid of the police shooting them,” a mother of two testified at the town hall, holding back tears of a thousand lost sons.

I am praying for Alejandro Nieto’s spirit journey, like I am for Andy Lopez and Kenny Harding Jr. and Oscar Grant and Derrick Gaines and Idriss Stelley and all the young sons who continue to be killed for being Black, Brown and young in this stolen indigenous land the colonizers call Amerikkka.

I am also praying for all of us mamaz, daddys, abuelas, abuelos, tias and tios still left in our gentrified hoods, barrios, streets and homes. Praying loudly and in stolen, policed and gentrifyer overrun public spaces. So please, if you see me, pray with me, ‘cause I think together we stand a better chance of not being shot.

Tiny – or Lisa Gray-Garcia – is co-founder with her Mama Dee and co-editor with Tony Robles of POOR Magazine and its many projects and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America,” published by City Lights. She can be reached at Visit and


21 thoughts on “SFPD-enforced gentrification killed Alex Nieto

  1. behind enemy lines

    Wednesday night a friend of mine and I were walking home down mission st. and we passed by two SFPD officers detaining a young man on the ground as they stood above him. my friend and I said to each other "watch out lets walk around them because they might kill us" "yea they just murdered a kid up the street the other day." The two officers heard us and stared us down as we passed and mumbled something under their breath. 20 min later as we were still walking home these same officers came screeching up to us in their patrol car and put us against the wall. I asked what they problem was and they said we "J walked 30 min ago and for your protection we are stoping and searching you and running your I.D.s. After obviously fishing for something to charge us with and finding nothing they let us go on our way. But of course not before informing us that he is a 5th generation San Franciscan (which obviously means his daddy was a cop) and asking me how long i have lived in SF to which i responded "I was born here". and then he says "stay out of SF politics".
    This was pure political harassment. This is why we call them pigs.

  2. Piece of mind

    all you assholes who talk shit about cops should stop and think how hard of a job they have. If you don't have the balls to be a cop, then shut your mouth. Besides lets stop and look at the reality that the mission is still a wild place, with the occasional rape and murder committed by gangs and other hoodlums, can't say I've heard of a techie raping and murdering someone before. Gentrification has made that neighborhood safer than it has been in decades

    1. Yolanda

      yep…because when someone is breaking into a house brandishing weapons for possible harm, there is no problem calling the cops to handle it for that person; Risking their lives and putting it all on the line for a complete stranger. If you are carrying anything that resembles a weapon and decide to pull it out and or pull the object out and point it at an officer of the law, who has most likely been shot at before by ruthless criminals,then you can be sure that you'll get a reaction that all police officers are TRAINED to do in a situation like this…and that is shoot to protect.

    2. chente

      of course your ok with the police shooting and killing latino people. and the call to the police was probably done by a techie and like yourself don't give a shit if these "latino people" are killed by the cops. Just the same as your types don't care if genocide was committed on Native Americans, Africans brought as slaves etc. "Its all done for progress." "Gentrification has made that neighborhood safer than it has been in decades Your kind are." Yes safer for people like you but not for people like us. You are inhuman and should be the ones erased from this planet!!!!!

    3. Rey

      So, according to Piece of mind people who are critical of the police are assholes? Yes, being a police officer is difficult. It is not a matter of having "balls" People become cops for many reasons, not all good. There are many good cops and plenty of bad cops. I used to work at SFPD and was heard of many things that were wrong and even illegal. SFPD has a long history of corruption and brutality to minority communities including a long profitable history of "raiding" gay bars to elicit bribe money. Crime does pay. It pays many criminals who are never caught including the corrupt cops (AGAIN A SMALL %) in bed with them. Again, the overwhelming majority of cops are clean but many act like THEY are part of the biggest street gang and it is "legally" sanctioned. SFPD pays a good salary but there are just too many cops with multiple houses, multiple luxury cars and secret side businesses. $$$ talks and remember the adage "ABSOLUTE POWER
      CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY. The police essentially police themselves. That is a failure. No accountability. We can't trash all cops but please don't paint dissenters or people with legitimate criticisms as "assholes"
      Also, I seriously question your statement that you "can't say you have heard of a techie raping and murdering someone before". I respectfully suggest you do some research. Have you ever heard of a man named Ted Bundy who raped and murdered DOZENS of women and young girls? Bundy was a law student. John Gacy? a "respectable" contractor I could cite dozens more notorious murderous rapists. There have also been numerous "craigslist" killers. All were "respectable" educated white men.

  3. seriously?

    How is this the tech industries fault again? And blaming badcops on gentrification seems like kind of a stretch. This kind of shit happens all over the country in areas that are not being gentrified.

    1. Seamus

      This is an African American version of FOX News. The truth isn't necessarily important to the article writers. Note how SFBayView supports the genociders in nthe Rwanda struggles & Mixon, the rapist and cop killer.

      It's all about boosterism here…except for the comments section.

  4. Val

    In many communities cops are basically given a license to kill. They know that they will always find an excuse to kill and will be backed up by the PD and the DA.

  5. seamus

    A witness says he was threatening people with what appeared to be a gun…may have been a stun gun. Then, another witness called police when he saw Nieto with what appeared to be a gun on his hip. Apparently he pointed it at officers when they contacted him.

    I don't know what officers could have done differently.

    1. rey

      I spoke with cops and NO ONE was threatened. It all started because one person called police and reported what "looked" like a gun on Mr. Nieto's hip. That little seed of information ballooned into murder.

  6. Rey

    As a White Man I am once again shamed and sickened by the murderous actions of the Corporate Police. Once again a person of color is shot down for absolutely no reason except the Goon Squad SFPD mentality. I used to work for The District Attorney's Office and believe me friends, RACISM is alive and well in San Francisco. The gentrification of San Francisco is the worst. The corporations are striving to make San Francisco a city of the rich and their servants with nothing in between. Nothing will change. The fascist cops will "investigate" themselves and SURPRISE! exonerate the murderers. The only way to punish is to sue the City to the hilt. Fun fact: while fraudulently portraying itself as this progressive, liberal city, SF is the most sued city in America. People forget the Zebra case of the early 1970's. Militants attacked SF Police stations. People were tired of the brutality striking their community. San francisco has ALWAYS had the one of the most corrupt police forces in the nation. I worked with SF COPS and it is amazing how many have multiple luxury cars and second and even THIRD homes. Many run side businesses like security firms. I know one who while assigned to desk duty (bogus injury) ran a security firm with 50 security guards. Public Servants? THAT is funny.

  7. Robert

    San Francisco is GONE. Replaced by hideous high-rise apartments at $5000/mo for a 2 br or $1,000,000 for a 2 br Condo. When I moved here 35 years ago this was a great small city that prided itself on it's peaceful diversity. Now, the Mission has been whitewashed and the Black neighborhoods have been raped (Fillmore) and eviscerated (Potrero, Bayview, Hunters Point) Working Class Blacks have been discarded by every Mayor including charlatan Willie Brown. Ah, Willie Brown who to this day is "married" to a Black Lady on paper only because a divorce would cost Willie too much. Willie has a taste for big, tall Blonde White women. Willie who sold the Black community a bill of goods (remember the big Candlestick development he lied to the Black Community about to get elected?) Willie Brown, just like Diane Feinstein, Gavin Newsom and Blatant liar Ed Lee care NOT ONE BIT about Blacks. They have no use for working people. They are in bed with the corporate pimps. I remember being on a bus the day after Willie was first elected. An African American man was announcing to the whole bus that now that Willie had been elected, San Francisco would finally become a "white town" I laughed out loud and asked the man if he really believed it? He responded yes and he and many passengers looked at me like I was an assassin when I said "Willie cares nothing about working Blacks".

  8. Desmond

    I remember growing up in Chicago in the 1960's/1970's and taking flak from friends in San Francisco about how segregated and corrupt Chicago was. Ironic that after living in SF for 35 years San Francisco has become, by far, obscenely segregated and as corrupt if not more so than Chicago. The upper income, overly comfortable and elite monied San Franciscans have no problem crowing about "diversity" and liberalism while they sip $7.00 dollar coffee munching $40 a plate entrees at the idiotic "hip" restaurant du jour. Why don't they take a drive over the hill from McClaren Park and the $1,000,00 Portola/Glen Park/Bernal homes and take a gander at the isolated, neglected, barren Sunnyvale projects and the decent mostly Black residents trapped there. Perfect irony that there is a beautiful golf course on a hill overlooking the projects. The side of the course facing the projects is the only side fenced. God forbid. what would the golfers think if a Negro from the projects were to wander onto the course and burst the bubble of illusion? Luckily for the golfers trees prevent them from being distracted by the projects.

    P.S. The city brilliantly designed the Sunnyvale projects devoid of sidewalks or walkways that would allow access to McClaren Park. So, like so much of San Francisco, Working and/or poor Blacks can admire the beauty from a distance but not really get to enjoy what is rightfully just as much theirs. very sad.

  9. Era

    This isn't a surprise that something like this would happen to another young man of race, we need to really look into these situations and begin to look into cases such as Oscar Grant or Trayvon Martin and others that have suffered the same ill fate as these young men have. The question is Why…Why is something like this happening so often, this just isn't coincidence anymore when you begin to analysis it and look at it in a more deeper and bigger picture this isn't right anymore nor should it be acceptable. Even though this is San Francisco anyone that is above intelligence can see as clear as glass how segregated it is in this city and the reason for that might as well be gentrification. Everything is separated in this city based on race, class, and socioeconomic and someone with enough sense can understand why. This entire country was built on racism and the division of class between those that are wealthy and those that are poor. This isn't just happening in California situations like this are happening all over the states and it is just really saddening. I am not a cop hater because you have those that are understanding and willing to become a part of the community they serve, but then you have some that are just out their with really swollen heads with too much ego and little understanding about the community they serve. This a very broad issue and something that just should not stop being discussed about on all levels. I will also add that this is a wake up call to men and women of color and of poverty to stop going against each other on all levels and unite as one because the more we become divided the more one of our very own are the victims of police violence or brutality. Notice if you can see as clear as day how the police when they are involved in these kinds of circumstances never get charged for their actions as a crime and that is because they easily get away with it. When we are divided we lose sight of the reality and the sense of what is going on around us and how things are structured in a way to keep us oppressed. We are beings of free spirit yet we are losing sight of the good aspects we can achieve and are capable of if we put our difference behind us and work together to figure out ways to stop these incidents from happening then we will be the ones that can drive these negative forces out our communities.

    Overall, this makes me very emotional to hear stories like this especially hearing that he was out their helping out the future generation of his community, he valued making society a better place and he was out their trying to manifest his values and hopes in seeing his work change the lives of youth struggling to become better individuals. This young man, despite the fact I may not know him, lived through his spirit and it is unfortunate to lose someone out their that went around planting seeds of hope.

  10. jordan

    Racism is alive and well in America. The racists claim "no racism because we have a black President". The pressure cooker is maxing out. Society will blow into violence. Watts in 68, Rodney King, Miami riots. Every 20 years or so it erupts. How much is the black community (and other minorities) supposed to take? Poor and working class have little or no chance as the divide between rich and poor grows ever more obscene and massive gentrification takes place.

  11. john

    Only way for change. Is for more people of different race join the police force and out number the whites cops.

  12. Rey

    America is mired in racism. It will never go away. I wonder if anything has really improved. Racism has gotten so insidious and it is camouflaged in so many ways. Just look how our own governments Republican Politicos have blocked Obama at every turn to the detriment of an entire nation. They have an irrational hatred of this man. Why? just his policies? No way. Barack Obama is hated for the old evil reason of pure racism. The Republicans in Wash. D.C. and their legions of millions are livid that A Black man was elected with the power of people of color (who they fear and hate) Women (who they see as biblical chattel) and Homosexuals (who they are disgusted by) So these overwhelmingly white and male Republicans and Tea Partiers are terrified and enraged that the trifecta of minorities, women and gays stood up and elected a reasonable, democratic, BLACK Man

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