I’ve lived in the Mission District of San Francisco for a long time. The Mission is famous for its murals, and I see them every day as I walk around my neighborhood. One mural I see regularly memorializes people of color murdered by the police, half of them in San Francisco. Another honors a young DJ who died. I know there are more murals on this subject in my neighborhood, so I’m walking and looking.
However, when I do a Google image search for “Mission murals” I get a huge number of results, but none of them show the murals memorializing people of color who were murdered by the police, including this one. If you know whose death you’re looking for, or if you look for murals about murders by police in San Francisco, then some do show up.
This mural honors Alejandro (“Alex”) Nieto, Michael Brown, Amilcar Perez-Lopez and Eric Garner. All four men were murdered by police officers, none of whom were convicted of any crime. Not that this is surprising: almost no police are convicted when they murder black and brown people.
Nieto died on March 21, 2014, in a barrage of bullets fired at him by four San Francisco policemen.
Amilcar Perez Lopez , a 20-year-old immigrant from Guatemala, was shot and killed on February 26, 2015 by two plainclothes San Francisco police officers.
Eric Garner, whose death on July 27, 2014 got more national attention than the two from San Francisco was unarmed and was killed by a police-prohibited chokehold; he was accused of the trivial crime of selling illegal cigarettes in New York City.
Michael Brown, as many of us know, was unarmed when shot and killed by a policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014, after which his body was left on the street for well over four hours. His murder sparked weeks of demonstrations and unrest in Ferguson, and was a major impetus for the beginning of Black Lives Matter.
Mario Woods, who is not in this particular mural, has a story well known to San Francisco residents, He was killed after as many as 15 rounds were fired into him by five San Francisco Police Department officers.
I’ve been going to demonstrations for the murder by police of young people of color for much of my life. The first death I remember is Emmett Till. He was lynched in Mississippi in August 1955 at the age of 14. I was 13.
The murders and the protests are both American traditions. And the killings continue with no accountability and no consequences to the police department. It makes me want to weep with rage.