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Witnesses to a police murder are mysteriously dying

October 17, 2017

Witnesses to the police murder of Luis Demetrio Gongora Pat are dying. The people launch an investigation with an emergency press conference at 19th and Shotwell streets in San Francisco at the altar for Luis today, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 1 p.m.

Tiny of POOR Magazine speaks at the rally held on the steps of San Francisco City Hall on the one year anniversary of the police murder of Luís Gongora Pat April 7, 2017. – Photo: Peter Menchini

by Lisa ‘Tiny’ Gray Garcia, Poor News Network

As the trial over the police murder of Luis Demetrio Gongora Pat, an innocent, unhoused Mayan father, husband, brother and son who was killed 18 months ago on the streets of San Francisco, approaches, the witnesses to his murder are mysteriously dying.

One witness, John Visor, died in his single room occupancy (SRO) hotel room on Aug. 11. Last week another person related to the case also died mysteriously in his SRO room in the same hotel.

“It is critical that the death of John Visor be examined by an independent agency to uncover any foul play that might have occurred,” said lawyer for the people Adante Pointer, who has been working tirelessly on this case since the murder occurred. “Any time someone dies like this, we are suspicious about the circumstances, given the implications his death may have against the Luis Gongora Pat case against the SFPD,” Pointer concluded.

On April 13, 2016, six days after SFPD murdered Luís Gongora Pat, at the town hall then Chief Greg Suhr would routinely hold following police murders to “calm” the public, 200 angry people demanded the firing of Chief Suhr. Suhr resigned under fire a month later after the next police murder. – Photo: Lola M. Chavez, Mission Local

Both John and the second man involved who just died, Greg, were poverty scholars, as we say at POOR Magazine, street scholars who struggled with houselessness and the trauma that is lodged in our collective heads in these post-colonial gentrified streets of amerikkklan, in this case the stolen village of Yelamu (aka San Francisco), where people like Luis (Gongora Pat) were homeless because of gentrification.

“Myself and John’s sister Maria Martinez have spoken with three medical examiners and they all had different stories. First he (John) was sitting on a chair, then he was on a desk, then he had marks on him, then something else,” said the other witness and John’s partner, Stephanie Grant.

At the emergency press conference, the community will be launching an investigation into the circumstances of both of these deaths of people related to the case.

Attorney Adante Pointer traveled to Mexico in October 2016 with a delegation from Poor News Network to gather information and deliver a handmade memorial quilt and comfort to the family of Luís Gongora Pat, who brought them into their homes and showed them the cemetery with above-ground crypts where the man they loved will rest in peace. Here, Pointer holds an international press conference in Merida, Mexico, with the family. – Photo: Poor News Network

The mysterious death of John Visor

“Everyone in the hotel was saying how happy John was, that he would never have ended his own life,” powerful superbabymama Stephanie Grant said through tears over the phone. Stephanie, who, like John Visor, was a witness to the San Francisco police murder of Luis Demetrio Gongora Pat over a year and a half ago, was discussing the increasingly suspicious death of her long-time boyfriend and comrade John in the Mission Hotel last week.

Myself, my son and POOR Magazine extended family, artist and organizer Pearl Ubungen had the blessing of meeting John and Stephanie in April of 2016 within days of the murder of Luis Demetrio Gongora Pat, as the tent cities surrounding his murder were being police harassed because the witnesses, like Luis, were unhoused. POOR Magazine’s village of houseless and formerly unhoused revolutionary reporters and advocates were called in to assist, advocate and do whatever needed to be done to support the witnesses and the unhoused community surrounding the murder.

When we arrived on Shotwell near 19th Street John and Stephanie were standing in front of their tent while two police officers singled them out, threatening them with tent and belonging removal if they didn’t leave immediately, which of course was strange considering no other tents right around them were being targeted in the same way.

Poverty skolaz at POOR Magazine, who have all been unhoused ourselves and therefore know the nuanced trauma and drama of what needs to happen to support folks in these moments, began a process, along with Pearl and her husband Ken Miller, advocate Laura Guzman, and advocate poverty scholar Nancy Scott, to help them store their stuff, raise money, get into rehab and protect them from more police targeting.

At the same time us revolutionary advocates were advocating, many of us were working alongside writer and organizers Adriana Camarena, Flora Campoy and the family of Luis Demetrio Gongora Pat and many others to form the Justice & Amor 4 Luis Demetrio Pat Coalition in support of liberation lawyer Adante Pointer from the John Burris law firm.

This San Francisco sidewalk at 19th and Shotwell that had been his home soaks in the blood of Luís Gongora Pat, who bled to death on April 7, 2016, after being murdered by SFPD hours earlier. A people’s investigation is now being launched into why two witnesses to the murder have died in the runup to the trial seeing justice for Luís. – Photo: Adriana Camarena

The fight for the safety and protection of the witnesses and the victims became connected and enmeshed as it should always be in cases like this. It was at this point that Pearl and Nancy and myself began to focus on getting the about to be mama Stephanie permanently off the streets so she could properly mama, while also working to support John into transitional housing.

Months passed, a beautiful baby was born and a mama was lifted up.

So in the last few months, Stephanie has been on track to get housing, raising her baby and supporting John through his own recovery. John got housing at the Mission Hotel, working on recovery and helping out everyone in the Mission Hotel building who needed it.

“He is sweet to everyone in the hotel, always ready to help, always there if you need him and always talking about his future,” said an anonymous source to POOR Magazine about John.

“And the timing is all wrong. First, his mama said she spoke with him on Wednesday, but he was supposedly dead on Tuesday. We just want justice; we just want the truth to come out,” Stephanie and Maria stated clearly. “We refuse to be silent.”

Please support the Gofundme for John Visor, at https://www.gofundme.com/funeral-expences-for-john-visor.

Tiny – or Lisa Gray-Garcia – is co-founder with her Mama Dee 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 deeandtiny@poormagazine.org. Visit POOR at www.poormagazine.org.

Video documentation and editing by Peter Menchini. “Featuring performer and collaborator José Manuel Góngora Pat, brother of Luís Gongora Pat, “28 Seconds” originated from José’s desire to re-enact the killing of his brother and is an evolving process I hope to continue to develop with Jose guiding the way. It is an honor to work in collaboration with José Gongora Pat, mil gracias también a toda la familia and the Justice & Honor for Luis Góngora Pat Coalition. Many thanks to performers Denise Sanchez, Maria Donjacour, Emelia Martínez Brumbaugh and Randy Lee Odell for the live music and sound score. Shout out to Darrell Rogers Eric Wise and Adrienne Fong for helping us along the way! All power to the people!” writes director Pearl Ubungan.

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