Greetings charged-up readers!
Trouble in Black Paradise sees the call for justice rumbling right into 2017.
A rally on January 5th highlighted the murder of Amilcar Perez-Lopez, a young Mayan immigrant from Guatemala cut down with 6 bullets to the back by SF plainclothes officers. The effort was tailored by a broad coalition—representatives of other citizens who expand a dreaded list of extremely damning, high profile killings by local cops.
Arriving at San Francisco’s Bryant St. Hall of Justice to a growing crowd some familiar faces quickly stood out—people I’d met all along the beat covering these conferences, protests & related legal battles.
It moves the heart expanding my familiarity with such beautiful folks under such tragic & sad circumstances. Finding personal connection with people who are so invested in celebrating humanity’s treasure—who’d spring forth challenging systemic horror even to get justice for total strangers—plucks an obvious jewel out of utter madness.
Like me many are independent journalists, documentarians & just plain average citizens, contributing ourselves by giving these critical developments a voice to reach others—vital links to our own varied & personal audiences.
Today’s era of social struggle is so clearly seen pulsating right here (where so much of the country’s major civic achievements & “testing points” found footing); we’re active local movers-&-shakers—legendary as well as the suddenly galvanized common person—all lending interactively; something to both shape & receive resource access—calling anyone interested in actually making life-to-life connection with the we who are “involved.”
Karen Fleshman of San Franciscans for Police Accountability (SFPA) greeted me delightfully, as did Benjamin Bac Sierra with Elvira & Refugio Nieto—the parents of slain citizen Alex Nieto. Father Richard Leslie Smith offered a warm embrace (I often join the 6-7pm Amilcar vigil he leads every Wed. at the Mission Dist. Police Station on 17th & Valencia St.).
Other relatives & advocates of those on that growing list welcomed me, including all who would soon address the gatherers.
Those coalition speakers were: Benjamin Bac Sierra (Alex Nieto); Luis Poot (Luis Gongora Pat); Phelicia Jones (Mario Woods); Denise Gasteulun (lawyer for Amilcar’s family); Father Richard Leslie Smith (Amilcar advocate & general organizer); Carlos Gutierrez (community activist) & the poet Ray (performance artist/activist).
Shout-outs went to the families of these victims killed by local police: Idriss Stelley, Oscar Grant, Kenneth Harding, Jr., Derrick Gains, James “Nate” Greer, O’Shaine Evans, Jessica Nelson Williams…& others.
Clear blue winter skies rained warm sunshine to pierce the chill at high noon, slipping an obvious break for this rally in between wet, rigorous storms. But for the victim’s families fighting to get legal justice for their murdered loved-ones—which includes access to “basic evidence” in these matters—the storm of legal resistance & denial never breaks.
It’s why we all were here.
SF District Attorney George Gascón claims he is finally close to deciding whether the cops who gunned down Amilcar will be charged. Protester’s signs remind all that it had been 679 days since he was killed February, 26, 2015, hence the relentless demand that these cops & those who’ve taken other citizen’s lives “under extremely suspicious & disturbing circumstances” finally be indicted.
Whether found guilty or not at least having their day in court would be a basic victory for families & SF citizens—given California’s legal obstacles set in place that absolutely shield all cops, no matter how egregious or dastardly their behavior.
See a broader list of state legalities designed to shield abusive cops I’ve detailed in earlier blogs here. But these are just some of the key gains mandatory legal procedure would set loose if there’s an actual indictment, which would inadvertently usurp that blockade:
In court evidence would have to be slipped out of that confinement & presented to the light of day for all to see.
Specific cops would have their accusations & history of attacks on innocent citizens made accessible on record. It’s a vital tool to track patterns of abuse which will help in future cases brought against the same abusive cops.
Evidence shows that previously abusive cops are willingly hired by SFPD & are already abusing citizens here:
On June, 5th, 2012, Officer Joshua Cabillo (of separate jurisdiction South San Francisco) brutally detained then shot to death 15-year-old Derrick Gains there. Now hired by SFPD a vicious Cabillo (with 2 other cops) severely beat & arrested 23-year-old Travis Hall South of Market St. on April, 10th, 2015—charges were immediately dropped. Then on January, 30th, 2016, Cabillo aggressively attacked Deja Caldwell (severely traumatizing her) who had the audacity to be vocal about police brutality while protesting with dignity in the Mario Woods Coalition’s “peaceful” march on SF’s temporary Super Bowl City.
Cabillo remains on active duty on SF streets.
Transparency will eliminate the opaque wall those cops use to hide their thuggish, murderous behavior: it could act as a stronger back-up deterrent if a cop’s need to be accountable is made prominent—laid bare for all to monitor & see.
SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi, hosting & leading the charge at this rally, wore a “Justice for Amilcar Perez-Lopez” T-shirt. Adachi painted an appalling picture of DA Gascón’s gross double standards:
“Whenever a police officer is the alleged victim, the DA goes ballistic & charges every charge in the world with often little evidence. But when it is a police officer who harms or kills someone, the DA charges the victim with the crime.”
“There has never, to my knowledge, ever been a case where a San Francisco police officer has been charged with a crime for shooting an unarmed civilian.”
“This is a situation which we cannot afford to forget, because that’s what they’re hoping is that this is gonna be forgotten about.”
Adachi noted a thing: police data shows 15 investigations into police-involved shootings are still open & cannot be closed until a decision regarding charges is made. Three cases date back to 2014. He also said we are getting no accountability from the DA, the Police Commission, the Office of Citizen’s Complaints (OCC), or any other civic agency.
And this key reminder: SF Penal Code 246.3 (Negligent Discharge of Firearms) allows for at least a minimum charge of “negligence”—if not murder—for officers Eric Riboli & Craig Tiffe (Amilcar’s killers who also still remain on duty, operating right out of Mission Dist. Station); added any other cops who with negligence “took the life of another human being.”
Adachi says, “Make no mistake. Murder charges, assault charges, firearm charges like that are filed against ordinary citizens each & every day!”
We citizens want to know why with such flagrant evidence (also of exposed cop lies & cover-ups) no charges have been made. DA Gascón why the double standard? What’s the delay?
Citizens demand charges be brought against all murderous officers now!
We say DA Gascón do your job!
Tweet yours or a version of the following to SF’s DA and include @GeorgeGascon and #AmilcarPerezLopez:
The @SFPD killed #AmilcarPerezLopez w/ 6 shots to the back. DA @GeorgeGascon charge them w/ murder! #GasconDoUrJob http://tinyurl.com/hggkuv5
@SFDAOffice @GeorgeGascon: Indict @SFPD Officers Eric Reboli & Craig Tiffe for murdering #AmilcarPerezLopez #6Shots2TheBack #GasconDoUrJob