John Burris represents the family of Luis Góngora Pat
by Tiny (Lisa Gray-Garcia), daughter of Dee, mama of Tiburcio, Prensa POBRE/POOR Magazine
“Get on the ground! Get on the ground!” Moving in slowly like they were on a hunt, high-powered weapons pointed down, the descendants of slave-catchers aka police stalk an indigenous man crouching on Shotwell Street holding a soccer ball. They shout disgustedly and dismissively in English from the video screen; my heart stops.
I try to keep watching, reminding myself I need to wear my reporter hat instead of my trauma-filled police-terror-from-my-life-of-houselessness blanket. We are watching the extrajudicial murder of Luis Demetrio Góngora Pat by San Francisco police.
This is a press conference. I need to remain sane. My body is shaking; my eyes turn back to the horrific video. They keep approaching – robotic, murderous minds already made up to kill, their bodies tense yet arrogant, as if they were the aggressor and he their prey. “Get on the ground!” Then the sounds of genocide fill the room: pop pop pop pop pop pop pop …
“Mr. Góngora Pat was already down on the ground when the third officer decided to pump three more shots into his body,” said Adante Pointer, one of four members of the John Burris legal team who spoke at a press conference held Friday, June 17, to announce their filing against the city for the unjust murder of Luis Demetrio Góngora Pat. “And, contrary to the police claims, they were speaking English, a language Mr. Góngora didn’t even understand,” concluded Pointer.
“When he tried to get up and move like anyone would do. he was shot, shot, shot, shot, shot, shot – in the side, back, shoulder and head. That shouldn’t have happened. It is why we are here today to vindicate this unjust murder,” said attorney John Burris to the small crowd of media and family gathered at the Episcopal Church of Saint John the Evangelist in San Francisco’s Mission District.
“He had a knife.”
“He was acting erratic.”
“He was a homeless man.”
After the violent murder of innocent Mayan father, brother, uncle, husband Luis Demetrio Góngora Pat, just like after the violent, horrific murders of innocent sons and brothers Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez Lopez, O’Shaine Evans and almost all the other victims of police terror, the police and their corporate media stenographers perpetuate a message of the police terror victims’ perceived violence and “criminal” behavior.
Not only is this racist and classist, it is an outright lie. In Mario’s case just like Luis’s, there was no knife danger, aggressive or allegedly criminal behavior. As a matter of fact, the police released the same stock photo of a random knife both Luis and Mario allegedly were brandishing when they were killed in cold blood by the police in the now gentrified neighborhoods of the Bayview and the Mission in San Francisco.
“This is the fourth shooting in San Francisco, a pattern of deadly force that goes unchecked and unmonitored. What we want is the shootings to stop,” Burris declared. “The witnesses do not support in any way, shape or form the claims by the police that Luis was acting in a threatening manner. Essentially, they say he was a non-aggressive person. He was sitting there on the street minding his own business, and his life was taken unnecessarily.”
“This is the fourth shooting in San Francisco, a pattern of deadly force that goes unchecked and unmonitored. What we want is the shootings to stop,” Burris declared.
Both Luis and Mario were known as easy-going, kind people doing nothing but being alive in Gentrification City. They were unarmed and never dangerous. Both, however, were men of color and, in Luis’s case, also unhoused, living in one of the richest cities in the world, with rampant and overt displacement efforts and increased police harassment and occupation of their communities.
“Our husband, father, brother Luis will never be forgotten,” said Luis’s daughter, Rossana Poot May, calling in from Mexico to the press conference. We thank all the people who are working for justice for him in San Francisco. It means a lot to us,” Rosanna concluded.
“He was our friend. Anyone who needed anything only needed to ask Luis and he would help out,” said Marty X, one of the unhoused neighbors of Luis on Shotwell Street. Marty was one of over a dozen housed and unhoused San Franciscans who knew their unhoused, peaceful neighbor, Luis Góngora Pat. “He always peacefully kicked his ball, never bothering anyone or anything.”
POOR Magazine’s PeopleSkool and Revolutionary Social Work project, with our own poverty scholarship, have been working with the unhoused witnesses to Luis’s murder. All of us unhoused and formerly unhoused mamas, uncles, poets, artists and cultural workers teach and write our own stories to make sure our lives are not narrated by only the hater ruling class.
As we have done for our entire organizational life in poor and unhoused communities, we have launched a new series of street newsrooms and writing workshops to chronicle the stories of police murder and harassment in the tent city encampments in San Francisco and Oakland. We have also released a series of WeSearch results to make sure that people’s belongings being stolen by the Department of Public Works are chronicled as belongings, not trash.
Marty was one of over a dozen housed and unhoused San Franciscans who knew their unhoused, peaceful neighbor, Luis Góngora Pat. “He always peacefully kicked his ball, never bothering anyone or anything.”
As unhoused people, we face an onslaught of focused hate coming from corporate media, corporate politricksters and the capitalist business class, with a healthy dose of hate from society at large for our exposed, roofless bodies. Luis, like the most recent police murder victim, Jessica Nelson Williams, were fundamentally seen as a “problem” by the landlord class who direct the agenda of the police because they were unhoused in a city being remade, redeveloped and rebranded as a city for the very rich and mostly white.
And because our unhoused bodies are no longer considered human and our belongings are no longer seen as belongings, we no longer have basic human rights and are constantly at the mercy of more and more ancient, re-branded settler-colonizer laws like the recent tent city removal laws being proposed by San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell, which are just like the ones created by Scott Weiner before him and Ed Lee before him and Gavin Newsom before him.
They come up with odd, Kafkaesque ideas like the Department of Homelessness, which does a whole other form of rebranding and remaking to make it seem like new stuff is being done to solve an intentional capitalist problem.
“We are here to support and fight for justice for our brother,” said José Góngora Pat, brother of Luis Góngora Pat at the press conference, translated by the amazing artist and community caregiver Adriana Camerena.
In actuality one of the most powerful things happening now is the resistance of Black and Brown communities to the ongoing police terror across Amerikkka and, in the case of Luis’s family, who are indigenous Mayans, they are bringing their own pre-colonizer controlled indigeneity in the form of their language, culture, spirit and consciousness into the white supremacist halls of injustice.
“We are here in support of the legislation written by John Avalos” was the beginning of testimony given in the language of the Maya at the budget hearing on Monday by José Góngora Pat, while the Justice and Honor for Luis Góngora Pat Coalition stood with them in the Board of Supervisors chambers.
They brought into City Hall the spirit of the Maya, the spirit of Mama Earth and ancestors from all four corners, all of the things never respected in this stolen Yelamu Ohlone territory the colonizers called San Francisco. With every pre-colonized word, Luis’s family crossed and unhinged false colonizer borders built with hate and stood up for honor and justice for their peaceful father, brother, uncle, husband Luis Demetrio Góngora Pat.
Watch PNN-TV coverage of the press conference. For more information on the case of Luis Góngora Pat, go online to https://justice4luis.org/. For more information on POOR Magazine’s upcoming revolutionary journalism classes, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org