Posted by: benbacsierra | January 18, 2016

“Lowrider Lawyers: Putting a City on Trial” The Full Film!

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the spirit of amor, we gift you FREE to the public “Lowrider Lawyers,” this powerful, critical film that changed the news and has forced the public to be critical about police narratives and mainstream media manipulations.

Please share and promote it to all your social media friends and familia. After you view it on Youtube, not only can you click the like button, but you can also write comments about your feelings.

Note that we have created this art and education so that we become more conscious regarding the legal issues of the Alex Nieto case and so that we rally during the trial, which begins Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at the federal courthouse in San Francisco. We invite you to donate to the gofundme account linked below so that we can help supporters pay for parking, lunch, transportation costs, and, even child care costs https://www.gofundme.com/fejstvpw Thank you.

Amor for Alex Nieto!

Like the “Lowrider Lawyers” Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Lowriderlawyers2016/

“Lowrider Lawyers” is a Barrio Bushido/Maya Media Production. Written and directed by Benajmin Bac Sierra. Filmed and Edited by Peter Menchini.

To view the most comprehensive videos about the Alex Nieto case, subscribe to Barrio Bushido TV and click on https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLN7t5iApQppcCgvTlfGFfbGg_8Xw7MOM3

 

Posted by: benbacsierra | January 7, 2016

“Lowrider Lawyers: Putting a City on Trial” Critical Reviews

Alex and cast of Lowrider Lawyers

Photo credit to Oscar Aguilar

After the “Lowrider Lawyers: Putting a City on Trial” event on Sunday, January 3, 2016, many people shared with me that it was the best event they have ever experienced in their entire lives. Perhaps the most powerful comment comes from veterana OG activist La Mesha Irrizary: I had not set a foot in a movie theater for the past 14 years, since SFPD killed my son at the Metreon, I am glad I got over my fear and came to the premiere !!

Before the film premiere of “Lowrider Lawyers: Putting a City on Trial,” director Ben Bac Sierra, poet Margarita Bac Sierra, and politically conscious iconic rappers Dregs One and Equipto performed for the packed audience at this unprecedented event at the Brava Theater in San Francisco’s Mission district. After the screening there was a community discussion panel including Roberto Hernandez, Edwin Lindo, Adante Pointer, and Thea Matthews.

Thanks to all who made this experience possible.

Now I present to you critical reviews of the film, case, and event:

Tim Redmond’s article in 48 Hills: Evidence in Nieto case casts doubt on police story:

http://www.48hills.org/2016/01/07/evidence-in-nieto-case-casts-doubt-on-police-story/

Click here to read the San Francisco Examiner’s report about the effects of the film:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/nieto-case-head-trial-contradictory-stories-witness-police/

Click here to read a review of the film and event, “Lowrider Lawyers” Put the City on Trial”:

http://www.48hills.org/2016/01/07/lowrider-lawyers-put-the-city-on-trial/

Click here to read an article about the “Lowrider Lawyers” film premiere:

http://missionlocal.org/2016/01/sf-mission-organizers-debut-film-on-alex-nieto-case/

“Lowrider Lawyers” Live Grand Premiere Show!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GH0_WCj21s

“Lowrider Lawyers: Putting a City on Trial” trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSlypJz0DBA
Click on the link to read a critical article about “Lowrider Lawyers”:

https://todobododown.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/lowrider-lawyers-putting-a-city-on-trial-an-argument-for-action-and-imagination/

Click here to listen to the “Hard Knock Radio” Lowrider Lawyers Interview that goes from 30:50 to 59:50: https://kpfa.org/player/?audio=223018

Click on the link to find out more about Alex Nieto: http://justice4alexnieto.org/alex-story/

 

 

 

Lowrider Lawyers Trailer1

Lowrider Lawyers: Putting a City on Trial—An Argument for Action and Imagination

On Sunday, January 3, 2016, at 3:00 p.m., the film Lowrider Lawyers: Putting a City on Trial will premiere at the Brava Theater in San Francisco’s Mission District barrio. The film will critically examine the witnesses and police officer regarding the unlawful killing of San Francisco scholarship student and security guard Alex Nieto, who was shot at 48 times by the SFPD on March 21, 2014 on top of Bernal Heights Mountain. Substantive answers from witnesses and the police are based on the actual San Francisco District Attorney’s report, deposition testimony, and other true accounts.

Truth, however, is not enough—because even with the truth, recorded videos, eye witness testimony, etc., we in the barrios and ghettoes continue to be killed purposefully by the police. Therefore, the time for action and imagination is now. With zero budget but lots of love, community volunteers wrote, directed, acted in, filmed, and edited this intelligent emotional art. We have created a critical, eye-opening, and magically realistic film for our community of scholars, workers, and homies—and for anyone else who is interested in a new perspective of reality. If this film does not intrigue you, it may simply be because this film is not for you, and that is okay. It may be because you cannot feel what it is to be in the shoes of the killed, or because you follow the narrative of “normal.” This film boldly challenges “normal” and creates a new reality where those who are despised are also prized as critical thinkers and revolutionary innovators, holding court on the actual streets! By the end of the film, you must make the decision, based on who you are, to accept or deny the logic of Lowrider Lawyers.

Through the tragedy of police killings of our brothers and sisters, we have recognized an opportunity to transform our culture through art and education. The film invites you to be shocked, to see things in a non-mainstream manner. Lowrider Homies, who were and still are some of the most despised humans in the Americas, can also be lawyers and defenders of the community. Combining street culture with text-based intellectualism, Lowrider Lawyers shows to youngsters that they can refuse to be swindled by the media’s negative stereotype of barrio brothers and sisters. Lowriders are the best of America, those who do not throw away their history. Lowriders create magnificent, colorful art from fifty year old rusted, unappreciated cars. With that same positive unique energy, Lowriders can also be lawyers.

On purpose the law is meant to confuse and make us feel stupid, as if we do not have the capability to even write our own name on a legal form, nor do we see the hocus pocus of how and why we are sentenced to twenty years or even execution when there are many other murderers of flesh and spirit who receive monetary raises and promotions for their crimes! This film shows us how strict textual analysis, which is the modern primary basis of higher education, can be embraced and owned by us. In the film the Lowrider Lawyers grasp the evidence and implement a Socratic style questioning to reveal inconsistencies and incredulities about the witnesses’ responses.

The great James Baldwin once wrote “I would have to appropriate these white centuries; I would have to make them mine.” In that same courage, we have employed the language of the law but not perpetuated a Harvard, Stanford, or Berkeley style analysis; we have combined that rhetoric but added a colorful San Fran Mission varrio explication to the truth, one that is more compelling and alive than the stale evaluation of the mainstream media. When you view the film, you witness that assimilation/shame is not the only alternative. Homies can mold their own identity, their own dignified creation. That we must become the oppressors to be valuable is a lie. Lowrider Lawyers strives to invalidate the brainwashing that education and leadership are only for those with advanced degrees or the luck of their birth status. Lowrider Lawyers stand up with style and intelligence.

Watch the film, and you will see how we wreck their logic. No one confesses, there is no surprise witness, but you get to think about their answers and confront your own conscience. How well do the police officers’ best answers satisfy you? How comfortable are you with allowing the police officers’ impossible narrative to keep you quiet? Lowrider Lawyers does not solve the problems of our society. It creates new visions, pride, and problems for us to address. It shows how one community has risen with hope and animo for the benefit of future generations.

As with many of our other past events, this premiere is expected to be a sold out event, so please purchase your tickets online at the link below so you can guarantee your seat at this unprecedented community event.

Amor for Alex Nieto.

 

Click on the link to join the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/823436287767339/

 

Click on the link to purchase tickets:https://apps.vendini.com/ticket-software.html?t=tix&e=579e9c315ed9ef81f9853ffdedec58a5&vqitq=f90b1de2-2f4c-4075-bb9e-af91900db862&vqitp=e189a329-9694-4a12-b924-a19ffd91d6ef&vqitts=1449694494&vqitc=vendini&vqite=itl&vqitrt=Safetynet&vqith=44204405d9b75a482fe0d1adb4b83c60

Click on the link to view the Brava Theater web page description and photos of Lowrider Lawyers: http://www.brava.org/current-shows/current-shows/lowrider-lawyers-putting-city-trial/#.VmiaW7grKM8

Click on the link to view the trailer for “Lowrider Lawyers: Putting a City on Trial”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSlypJz0DBA

Photo credits to Peter Menchini.

Sponsored and endorsed by the San Francisco Lowrider Council!

Posted by: benbacsierra | October 9, 2015

“I” Love San Francisco!

San Francisco’s Mission is the front line battle for America’s dream of equality.

“I” love San Francisco, so on Tuesday, November 3, 2015, “I” fight for San Francisco. Vote yes on Proposition “I.”

Proposition “I” is our front line fight for many reasons, such as saving our artists, activists, and educators, but Proposition “I” is most important for protecting and empowering the FUTURE of our youth. San Francisco embodies opportunity and muscle that our youth must be able to access. There is absolutely no better way to access this miracle but to literally be in it, San Fran.

I am who I am because I was born and raised in San Francisco. If I had been raised in Tracy or Antioch (no disrespect to these places that have welcomed our gentrified gente), I simply wouldn’t be the same person I am today. I would not have the crazy cosmopolitan view I hold, and neither would many other people of proof, such as longtime homegrown activist, Roberto Hernandez. SF offers a unique, open, international diversity and style. I learned to walk the streets of Chinatown, North Beach, Excelsior, Hunter’s Point, Sunnydale, Downtown, the Sunset, and, of course, the stomping grounds of La Mision and Cortland Streets. We dealt with many different types of people, from the homeless can collector to the tourist who would watch us break dance at Fisherman’s Wharf. As a twelve year old youth, break dancing was one of my first jobs because in San Fran anything was possible.

Some years ago I cruised a few Modesto adolescents to the top of Twin Peaks. Once we unloaded, they were frozen staring at the sparkling view. One youngster stumbled in a daze gazing over the majesty of mountains, bay, bridges, highrises, and neighborhoods, then in curiosity and seriousness, turned to me and asked:

“Is that New York?”

God bless their souls. They held such a cruel innocence, but that question is a product of what can happen to our young gente living in the valley and dealing with the hardships of that life. If we’re sober about learning this city system and progressing forward and learning from different cultures and arts, then we gotta stay in SF. The books do not replace the feel of home. The internet cannot substitute for the energy of the streets. Once we get kicked out, we may come back from time to time and get nostalgic, but it aint the same, homes. With traffic and distance, it gets harder and harder to return, and then homeboys and homegirls may just come through once a year or never again. Life goes on and life is lost. Note that there are teenagers from Richmond who have never even visited San Francisco! How will our future youth understand the nuances of big city culture and etiquette, and how will they connect to community there? Unfortunately, they won’t.

Many times it is easier to stay stable in the desperation they know.

What is lost is the youth’s ability to relate to a big city and all the healthy and unhealthy insanities associated with that. Youth get shy and alienated and may make excuses that the city just aint for them, which locks us out of power even more. In the big cities there is opportunity: economic, cultural, musical, artistic, revolutionary, etc. There is a sublime root in the jungle, but as the famous James Baldwin once stated, “I was unfitted for the jungle.” So going back to the jungle is not an option. San Francisco is where our youth live, and the time to protect and empower them is now.

Yes on “I” Love San Francisco protects our youth so that they have the chance to thrive and be part of all of its resources and activities. If we aint got access to one of the world’s most vibrant and powerful cities, our future generation will become more apathetic and isolated, to the point where we will not know what is happening, and then we will be completely eliminated from participating in important discussions and taking action against oppression. It will be our fault that the destructive cycles plaguing our communities will continue.

The international arena of San Fran must remain home for our future’s creativity.

Yes on “I” is a way for La Mission and the rest of America to pause and plan, something very much needed because we cannot allow the system to literally bulldoze over us any longer. The people wrote the “I” ballot measure. The people must rise and vote. Time doesn’t stop for anyone, so let’s go forward together.

Yes on “I” love San Francisco!

Yes on I

“Romance and Righteousness: The Creation of and Historical Significance of Favi Estrella’s ‘Cruisin’ with You’ Music Video”

All power and love to Favi Estrella, a soothing soul singing homegirl warrior, and to her magnificent crew that filmed this beautiful empowering artistic video, “Cruisin’ with You,” which is dedicated to our fallen brother Alex Nieto.

Our movement, Amor for Alex, is a creative revolution, a perpetual pursuit for passion.

Cruisin with You Amor for Alex

Favi Estrella’s new hit “Cruisin’ with You” exemplifies puro amor and community in action. The tragedies that are daily pressed upon us are our opportunity for creation. With our tears, we make art. If beauty is truth, then here it is, in every scene and shot of the video, and that is why the “Cruisin’ with You” video deserves a thorough analysis.

Favi had called me only days before the video filming to ask if we could gather enough gente and lowriders for the proposed video. After calling Roberto Hernandez, the mayor of La Mision, we organized and promoted a free barbeque, lowrider show, and signature gathering party at an event entitled “Independence of La Mision” to be held on Friday, July 3, 2015. While the gente and lowriders packed La Raza park, Favi and her crew almost didn’t make it, as they had been accosted and harassed by the Oakland police at the same time they were supposed to be with us, yet the filming, even with its obstacles, was meant to be, and she made it to witness an entire community of lowriders, children, veteran OG’s, political warriors, and families united to uplift the positive message of fighting against gentrification and of love and justice for Alex Nieto.

The movement for Alex Nieto began on March 21, 2014 when scholarship student Alex was shot at 59 times and killed by the San Francisco Police Department. Since then SFPD and the San Francisco machine have continued to attempt to oppress us with their lies and cover-ups, but we as a community are resilient and persistent. We hold endurance, that trait that withstands oppression and continues forward simultaneously. Since he was unlawfully killed we have marched, sung, painted many murals in Alex’s honor, performed poetry, created film, and held magnificent lowrider shows. Aztec dancers have blessed us with their spirit, and we have hosted informational booths at events such as Carnaval. We have spread our positive message using writing, videos, posadas, Burritos on Bernal, celebrations at the cemetery, y mas! Our search for truth will not end until Alex’s life is vindicated.

“Crusin’ with You” is Favi and the community’s latest art to combat injustice. Favi’s delicious soul soothing style of singing lowrider oldies is a revolution unto itself. She carries a voice of compassion that glides us into a new era of activism, one that is rooted in the streets, our positive community. Hypnotically, Favi sustains her lyrics with sensuality, but not a poisoned commercial hedonism. She respects the unique history of the Mission and Bay Area street culture, which adds a metaphysical dimension to her sound. Her singing is a cruise, a lullaby, not to put us to sleep, but to awaken us to our community responsibility.

screen-shot-2015-09-12-at-5-55-23-pm[1]

The opening shots of the video are of Favi reading and viewing intense literature and historical photography. One book is of Ted Pushinsky’s photography, and in it there is a world famous shot of 1970’s 24th Street Mission Homeboys marching down the street with their boom box. In the background one hears two mas firme classic cholo oldies, The Moments’ “Love on a Two Way Street” and Malo’s “Suavecito.” These songs are salutes to our romantic and loving traditions in the barrio. On Favi’s door is a genius pencil penitentiary style mural drawing of Favi, a 1964 Impala lowrider, and the elegant script “Cruisin’ with You.” Political testaments of struggle, these intricate drawings were a way for incarcerated homeboys to kill time and create love out of an empty page. With mass incarceration that erupted in the 1980’s, homeboys found themselves victims of the system and locked up for great lengths of time. They fought back with art, as many homeboys learned to be detailed and creative, drawing out history and visions for special people on the outside.

11987007_10206426999425495_6996675771142909290_n

Next in the video you witness the Homeboys and Homegirls come to pick Favi up for their cruising journey. The cruising tradition is an American tradition, but here it has a Brown Homeboy and Homgirl street twist to it. Cruising is a way to escape the static nature of life. Cruising is a movement outside of the self and into community bonding with others. It is a way to live and love. They cross the new Bay Bridge and reach their destination, San Fran Mission’s La Raza Park, headquarters—a meeting place where there is no need for closed-in offices or minute keepers. Organizing is done on the streets. Homeboys and Homegirls have gathered together at Raza for the past forty years. We simply make things happen.

A true story about La Raza Park’s creation:

“Because of the lawsuit [for police harassment] and all of that, we were making the city and the mayor look real bad, so the city came up with the money to build La Raza Park. So we wanted actually to build a Low-Rider park. But the City didn’t go for it, so we negotiated for an amphitheater, and so we did concerts. Yeah, we used to have some badass parties here, and then we would have car shows on the side of the street.

So we were real happy about that, that was one of the major outcomes of organizing as Low Riders …”

–Roberto Hernandez quoted from an archive in the Newspaper El Tecolote.

Note that in the video Favi sings on top of Bernal Heights Mountain, a holy precious peak. One can see the magnificent view and just dream to be there. Who wouldn’t want to spend some time reflecting and singing on top of that gorgeous hill? Favi sings exactly where Alex Nieto spent the last moments of his life. He went to eat his burrito before having to go to work as a security guard. He was scheduled to work in less than two hours. Alex always ventured up to that beautiful place to clear his mind. SFPD killed him in cold blood on top of that same mountain where Favi, with red flower in her hair, sings to him.

screen-shot-2015-09-12-at-6-10-06-pm[1]

The video then captures the posted colorful lowriders—Impalas, Cutlasses, Deluxes, Cadillacs and one red Monte Carlo which Alex Nieto cruised in many times. The “Bombas” are featured prominently, those 40’s and 50’s Chevys that trace our roots back in this country and show our unique American-ness. We respect our past, perhaps more than others, in that we value what the new gentrifying residents of the Mission have thrown away. We create art from antiquity.

Throughout the video you witness the free barbeque, people eating, DJ music spinning for all the gente. Congas banging, OG’s laughing, posturing, and dancing. You are amazed by the vibrant banners: “Amor for Alex,” “Justice and Love for Alex Nieto,” and “No Monster in the Mission.”

“No Monster in the Mission:” In March of 2015 the Mission community was betrayed by San Franciscan politicians who had promised to vote in favor of a moratorium regarding the development and building of luxury condominiums in the Mission. At present 19 developers want to develop only luxury condominiums. The politicians’ betrayal did not deter the gente. In March, 1000 people claimed City Hall.

Unfortunately, after the board voted against the referendum, Mission activists were told they had only twenty days to collect 9,000 signatures for a ballot measure. An army of community members were put together to gather signatures. The Lowrider Council and Amor for Alex united to obtain signatures. In the “Cruisin’ with You” video you see Roberto Hernandez speaking. We used the video filming as an opportunity to galvanize people around this noble cause against gentrification. The following Tuesday after the video was filmed, one hour before the deadline of the ballot measure, San Fran Mission activists registered over 15,000 signatures. We have been assigned the letter “I” ballot measure for San Francisco’s November 3, 2015 voting day. Our chant: Vote yes on “I” love the Mission! “I” love San Francisco!

No Monster in the Mission

Other powerful images from the video: An African American Motorcycle Club rode through and joined us in solidarity, cheering us on as we took pictures and smiled together. Our spirit of love spread to each other. Handmade jewelry is also displayed, custom made by our own Mission jeweler, Friscasso, a homeboy of La Mission.

screen-shot-2015-09-12-at-5-49-53-pm[1]

The starkest image, however, is that of a set of parents standing up for their son. With dignity, Refugio and Elvira Nieto, parents of Alex, stand together in front of the lowriders and banners. They are our inspiration for justice and the next generation.

screen-shot-2015-09-12-at-5-46-16-pm[1]

That next generation consists of the new lowriders: familia. Champion Lowrider Nelly Nell Nelson best displays this at the conclusion of the video. With his family, including children, he hops his 63 Impala drop top throughout the Mission Streets.

“Cruisin’ with You:”

Flowers in my hair,

Stars in the sky.

Can’t fight this feelin between u and I.

Next to u.

Nothin I’d rather do.

Romance and Righteousness together forever.

Your humble servant, Ben Bac Sierra, reading new poems: “My Mother Used to Holler, ‘No Dejan Que te Lavan El Cerebero!’ (Don’t Let Them Wash Your Brain!)”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpZKIZCMVL0

Voz Sin Tinta, Alley Cat Books, San Francisco Mission 24th Street, August 13, 2015

The media is owned by cartoon characters. Disney owns ABC, so that means Mickey Mouse is giving you your news.

“My Mother Used to Holler, ‘No Dejan Que te Lavan El Cerebero!’”

Learn your ABC of news

To surrender to what

Mickey Mouse wants

He’s not playful

He is a rat

Who gnaws and scratches at your soul

That tastes better than cheese and is less sticky than peanut butter

You are the one trapped

In his reports about

Black people as savages

Brown people as stupid and

Snow White as beautiful truth

Silence is BREAKING NEWS

Because it comes from within

From what is important

A discovery of depth

Without a voice

The only one brainwashing you

Should be you

“A Gift from God”

Aint no one just gonna give you love

It don’t work like that, baby

No one owes you a damn thing

So hike up that skirt

Build them biceps

Brush your teeth in a circular motion

Most importantly—write fucked-up poems

Cause you can lie about everything else

But poetry is truth.

You choose:

Pretend your shit don’t stink

Or embrace the insanity of existence

By choosing the stink

You love life and life loves you

Take it any way you can get it

“Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothin Left to Lose”

There is purpose and pride

In me alone

But only for a moment

Laughing by myself too long

I lose my mind

Independence is a great high and illusion

We chase after ourselves as if we could catch

The dust from stars

Independence ultimately equals selfishness

Boring unfulfilling stupidity

Unless we share we cannot have even proof

Of us

We never know ourselves

Community: I need you in order for me to be me

You are my mirror

My liberation from myself

You save me from freedom

“It’s Only You Who Changes”

Wasted time is the worst

You clutch to hope

That will never come

Time does not stop or forgive

Or cry or care

For your petty possibilities

Its answer is always death

You keep on trying to figure it out

Without realizing that the racket blasting in your brain

Is time’s silent persecution

You are a victim

And there’s nothing you can do about it

Your time is gone

Like her ruby red lipstick washed away off your collar

You do not even deserve something to remember her by

The laundry detergent

Too powerful

Too clean

For your soiled plans and parties

Wasted time is

The only alternative

We live for our illusions

Falling down drunk

Flying free

Prudish purpose

The same shit

The same shit

Time is time

The best of times

The worst of times

Is the same shit

It’s only you who changes

Someone

Something

Different

More powerful

Than eternity

Subscribe to Barrio Bushido TV for more powerful poetry!

Posted by: benbacsierra | March 19, 2015

“Amor for Alex” Film Premiere and Lowrider Show

Amor for Alex Film Premiere

Amor is absurd. To promote it as the base for a movement is to embrace insanity. Love is too passionate and caliente—a burning trash can in the middle of the night.

Amor leads to ashes.

From ashes I came, to ashes I will return, so why fear or negate my own dust? I was born into San Fran streets where the superheroes were not Batman or Wolverine. The bad-asses were the lowriders, the cockroaches who cruised las calles proclaiming through their dance—in the face of so much despair and desperation–“We exist!” No doubt about their powers.

They convinced me of what I wanted, so before a book, or colorful medal, or a degree were my goals, my mission was a hood classic: a Regal, a 64, another Regal, a 66, and the Monte Carlo Knight. These were more than cars. They were magical spaceships that transported me to the sublime state that only cholos y cholas treasure. While everything else is all fucked up outside, inside your ranfla, you hold dignity, the souldies blasting—dragging you down into the blues but at the same time exorcising you from many difficult demons. Everyone else is walking or riding around pissed off or confused, but you in your vain ass ruby red gangster-mobile are authentic and clear—‘cause you are laughing and crying at the same time:

As I sit here thinking of you, and of the wonderful love we once knew even though you’ve gone away, my heart has gone with you!

And if you hit the switches just right, you can unlock the key to the universe, what every single brown bandido dreams—that lowriding is about more than just flexing your muscles and mad-dogging homeys on the block—you wish love, that loco y loca amor where you aint got shit but a couple of forties and each other rolling not knowing where you’re going—and that is all you’ve ever needed and wanted in this vida loca that you have tattooed green all over your buffed out arms.

Genius: vida loca lowriding is the freedom they never taught you about in school.

This Saturday, March 21, check out the lowriders in a new light. Look into the grills and admire the eyes of those who have been targeted and discounted yet continue to live with class and pride, as an example for us all. They are our history and potential, these OG’s with their pinta records, and pinche jobs, and businesses, and familias, and overwhelming abundance of amor for our gente.

In unprecedented fashion and style, the lowrider community, hundreds of cars deep, will literally lead the procession across San Fran to the film premiere of “Amor for Alex,” a film dedicated to our fallen lowrider brother Alejandro Nieto, who was shot at 59 times and killed by the San Francisco Police Department for eating his lunch in a gentrified neighborhood. At 7:00 p.m. we combine Aztec danzantes, a singer, a rapper, poets, activist leaders, art, and films to inspire a new breed of street stars, Renaissance Homeboys and Homegirls dedicated to the craziest mission of all: community amor.

The New America: We choose to do it not because it is not crazy; we do it precisely because it is loco.

THE REAL NEWS ABOUT ALEX NIETO! ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION OF THE SAN FRANCISCO DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S REPORT DECIDING NOT TO FILE CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST SAN FRANCISCO POLICE OFFICERS WHO KILLED ALEX NIETO ON MARCH 21, 2014

Welcome to the real news!

Scholarship student and security guard Alex Nieto never pointed a taser at San Francisco Police Officers Sawyer and Schiff. There is at least one witness who saw everything and emphatically confirms that Alex Nieto never pointed a taser at officers. This witness was never interviewed for the district attorney’s report.

But for one moment let’s forget the witness. The district attorney’s report accepts the police department narrative: two veteran San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) police officers have their weapons drawn aiming directly at Alex Nieto who is eating a bag of chips walking down the hill. Both officers KNOW he has a firearm. These two READY police officers then allow Alex to square off with them, reach into his holster (they KNOW he has a gun), and they allow Alex to point this “gun” directly at them BEFORE they finally make the decision to start shooting at him 59 times.

This tale is ridiculous and unbelievable, yet they expect us to accept it.

There was no reason for Alex to have been shot at 59 times! This entire sham is a cover up to hide the SFPD’s incompetence, lack of fire discipline, and illegal and intimidating investigation. They will not take responsibility for killing an innocent, promising young man, Alex Nieto, our brother.

I was Alex’s best friend. For credibility purposes, so that you will not dismiss this as some illogical rant, I must provide you with credentials: I am a combat Marine Corps veteran. I hold a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, a Master’s in English, and a Juris Doctor degree from U.C. Hastings. I have been a college professor for over a dozen years. I am a published author. You can trust that I have analyzed and evaluated this district attorney’s report not to file criminal charges against San Francisco Police Officers.

I now will begin an investigation into the report:

    • During an April 2014 meeting with me, the lawyer for the case, the Nieto family and the district attorney (D.A.) and his subordinates, San Francisco D.A. Gascon promised a thorough investigation regarding the entire shooting and its aftermath. He promised he would investigate the totality of the crimes involved with this shooting.
    • The DA did not thoroughly investigate or question the shooting itself, nor did he investigate the action of SFPD after the shooting—the illegal interrogation of the Nietos, the unlawful extraction of confidential medical records, the attempted warrantless search of the Nietos’ residence, the robbery and warrantless search of Alex Nieto’s car. Why did the police act in such a secretive manipulative manner if the shooting was justified? Why did the police claim to the media incorrect statements that Alex had a gun when they immediately knew, according to the DA report, that Alex had only a taser? This evidence must be examined and looked at as part of the totality of the crimes committed.
    • On page one and two of the report, there is a section dedicated to explaining an encounter with a dog owner witness who saw Alex on the day he was killed. This male witness has absolutely nothing to do with any police reporting about Alex. He never called 911. No police officers knew anything about this witness, so he should have no bearing on the officers’ response to the hill that day. Is the witness a licensed psychiatrist to determine whether a person who looks around at his environment is acting erratically? A trial would have led to this witness’s cross examination. I repeat: he does not contribute in any way to the police coming because he never contacted the police, and the police knew nothing about this witness or an altercation when they came with a military mindset to kill Alex.
    • On page one and two, an exchange between Alex and an uncontrollable dog is described. It is completely reasonable that Alex would have felt threatened by a large dog that was “following” and harassing him and not under the control of the owner. Alex even moved away from the dog to another set of benches in order to avoid conflict with the dog. Yet the dog persisted in harassing him. Alex even tried to wave the dog away. The dog barked aggressively and could not be controlled by the irresponsible owner. Aggressive dogs that do not pay attention to their owners can be a lethal threat to a person. Alex would have been fully justified in attempting to defend himself from this uncontrollable dog. This was a giant dog, yet its description is nowhere mentioned in the report. The DA report simply accepts the owner’s account of what happened, which is biased, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, completely irrelevant to the shooting because this owner never contacted police, perhaps because he knew he was to blame for his aggressive, uncontrollable, unleashed dog. Police knew nothing about this dog owner witness.
    • Alex must have been justifiably shaken from this dog attack.
    • According to page two of the report, two witnesses see Alex and believe he has a gun. He did not brandish it or point it. In fact according to the DA report, Alex did absolutely NOTHING to these two male witnesses who actually called the police. The witnesses do not even claim that Alex ever even looked at them!
  • According to the bottom of page two, no 911 call or radio dispatch claims Alex Nieto is doing anything that is erratic or violent. We now have confirmed evidence that Alex never threatened anyone, yet the SFPD rushed up to Bernal Hill in an aggressive military manner to kill someone.
  • On page three, according to Officer Sawyer, as Alex walked down the hill, he continued eating from his bag of chips. Consider Alex’s intent and mindset: he had no clue that anyone had called the police on him because he had done nothing wrong. He was minding his own business eating his chips. He did not imagine that the police were there for him. Any reasonable police officer seeing someone eating a bag of chips should have known that this person is not a violent threat. Yet they approach him in a daunting, life threatening manner with their guns drawn on him.
  • On page three of the report it states that when officers see Alex they believe he is the suspect. Officer Sawyer believes he sees a bulge under his jacket that may be a gun. Officer Schiff certainly sees what he believes is a holstered weapon.
  • Officers exit their patrol car with guns drawn on Alex.
    • They state that then Alex lifted his arms and exposed what appeared to them to be a holstered weapon.
  • Let’s review: They both now know that Alex Nieto has a pistol and they have their own guns aimed right at him; their weapons are drawn.
    • They then claim that Alex takes his weapon out of his holster and points it at both of the ready and trained officers, and the officers allow him to do this.
    • For argument’s sake, let us accept this narrative yet question it. If Alex had drawn his weapon, and the veteran police officers have their own pistols aimed right at him, and they justifiably believe he has a gun, why did they not immediately shoot when Alex even attempted to reach for his weapon? Why would trained police officers allow themselves to be tracked by someone with a gun?
    • This narrative is completely unbelievable. Once Alex would have reached for his weapon, officers would have immediately fired, especially since they already had their weapons drawn and pointed at him.
    • Why would Alex Nieto even point a taser at police officers when he has done nothing wrong? He is ready for work as a security guard (he’s scheduled in less than two hours). He has no criminal history and has never been arrested in his life.
    • On page three, why does the report reference the first shots fired by Officers Sawyer and Schiff as “a number of shots?” Why can’t they say exactly how many shots they fired at that moment and who fired first?
    • This D.A report’s summary of the shooting is completely inconsistent with the audio. There were first two shots and then there was a seven second pause. Then there was more firing, what we now know was a total of 59 shots!
  • On page four, why did Officer Morse “kick” the taser out of Alex’s hands? Why not take a picture at that moment?
  • According to page five, the police started shooting Alex at 7:18:40, and they claim that according to a memory device inside of the taser, that it was discharged at 7:18:45, 7:18:52, and 7:19:02. If this is accurate, and they claim that Alex is standing (from page three) during at least the 7:18:45 taser discharge, why didn’t police officers Sawyer and Schiff see that Alex would have discharged a taser that shot out a wire and darts, not bullets? Did Alex Nieto ever point a taser at officers if they could not see that he would have discharged an electric taser? Can it be possible that once the police began shooting, Alex then attempted to defend himself but did not even point the taser at the officers? Perhaps a bullet struck the taser?
  • Is lack of fire discipline by these police officers the real problem that occurred? Throughout this entire shooting, they did not have fire discipline and thought they were at the Wild West and could not tell they were in absolutely no danger from Alex.
  • On page four, Officer Morse states he thought “Mr. Nieto was firing at them when he heard popping sounds and saw what he thought were muzzle flashes.” Officer Morse cannot tell that it is only officers who are shooting because no one is taking responsibility for fire control or calling for a cease fire. Officer Morse completely imagines that there are muzzle flashes coming from Alex, but that is impossible because Alex Nieto does not have a firearm.
  • The San Francisco Police Officers were reckless in the way they fired their weapons, not taking into account possible civilian victims. They could not even find all of their bullet casings or other evidence from the taser.
  • Now we move onto the SFPD’s cover up and illegal investigation:
  • After the killing of Alex Nieto, why did SFPD tell the media that Alex had a gun when they knew that he only had a taser? They knew then that that was a lie, but it was a way to buy time for their cover up, which began in earnest after the unlawful killing.
  • There were only two officers who supposedly saw Alex draw his taser. We know of at least one witness who states certainly that Alex Nieto never pointed a taser. Why didn’t the district attorney interview this witness?
  • On page six of the report, the police claim that Alex should have known not to point a taser at officers because he owned a CD version of the taser’s operating manual “that was located in Mr. Nieto’s car.” How did police obtain that CD? The day after the unlawful killing SFPD stole Alex Nieto’s car and performed a warrantless search of it. THE D.A. IS USING AN ILLEGALLY OBTAINED CD FROM ALEX’S CAR AS EVIDENCE FOR WHY THEY WILL NOT PROSECUTE OFFICERS AND TO FURTHER DEFAME ALEX NIETO! Why isn’t the police department’s stealing of Alex’s car seen as suspicious?
  • The day after the killing, SFPD investigators are sent to intimidate the Nieto family. They attempt a warrantless search of the residence and extract information that they use to slander and smear Alex Nieto. Through their intimidating investigation of the Nietos, the SFPD found that Alex had medical records at San Francisco General Hospital.
  • How did confidential medical records get released in less than three days (for Chief of Police Greg Suhr’s town hall meeting on Tuesday, March 25, 2014) without authorization? Who authorized this release of confidential medical records? Releasing confidential medical information is a crime.
  • We were guaranteed that the D.A. would investigate the totality of the crimes involved, yet he focused on the singular shooting AND Alex’s irrelevant past. The officers knew nothing about Alex when they approached him on March 21. Now it is confirmed: No broadcast to police or 911 call gives any negative description about Alex Nieto.

I have had less than 20 hours to prepare this statement. The San Francisco District Attorney had 10 months to investigate and to write a flawed eight page report.

This is the real news.

Amor for Alex,

Benjamin Bac Sierra, M.A., J.D.

Alex Nieto at Accion Latina

Posted by: benbacsierra | December 6, 2014

Looking for the Perfect Beat

“LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT BEAT”

For the reasonable person, “justice” is supposed to trigger comfort and complacency.

For the “unreasonable” person, “justice” seems like it should trigger frustration and anger.

Contrary to popular belief an argument’s logos or logic, many times, is not most important. Sometimes logos is lost through the smoke of arguments. The emotional impact of words, their pathos, however, is never lost because we can all relate to powerful human emotions.

Both reasonable and unreasonable justice mean revenge, punishment, stupidity, spite, and hate. The remedy for justice can never be a time machine to the past; that is impossible. Therefore, we talk about this word without even knowing what it means. We dedicate our lives to ignorance.

Justice is a joke.

If I am going to give my life for a word, the vagueness and absurdity of the word justice do not respect my life. So I search:

“Looking for the Perfect Beat” is the ultimate jam.

As a pre-teen kid, for hours, I would passionately practice looking for the perfect beat by break dancing, sweat raining down on the cut cardboard or linoleum pieces that we dragged out to the concrete street. We would catch the San Fran MUNI bus down to Fisherman’s Wharf and dance for pocket change and admiration. Through looking for the perfect beat, we found it—even though nothing ever was or ever would be perfect.

And that is what I am doing today, looking for the perfect beat in an imperfect world. The goal can be reached in the process. It is not found later; it is now.

Right now, we, by looking for the perfect beat are already in the best place, so I’m not going to address the past or the future, but I desire to appreciate the now of simply searching for the perfect beat, and that perfect beat is not necessarily the truth or some abstract fuzzy thing called justice: the perfect beat is what we have right now, and that, at its best, is

Amor.

If I am going to dedicate my present, the only thing I know for certain in this universe, to something then I am going to dedicate my now to the feeling, not the knowledge, not the understanding of it, but just the feeling of amor. No one needs to explain love to me. No one needs to explain amor to you, either.

Do not be fooled by lies and bitterness. Those things waste your precious time, and what you have right now is now. Looking for the perfect beat is the wisdom of never finding it.

Que Viva Alex Nieto.

Posted by: benbacsierra | September 20, 2014

Law School Education

An excerpt from my new book Renaissance Homeboy:

When I began law school in Fall 2001, I felt my job was not to be critical but first to be secretly submissive. Many years earlier in Marine Corps boot camp, a drill instructor had barked in my face:

“Scumbag, do you want to be private or a Sergeant?” He thought it was a simple rhetorical question.

“Sir, this recruit wants to be a private.” I looked forward so as not to eyeball him.

“You must be the stupidest rock I’ve ever seen in my life!” He jumped about two feet in the air. “You want to burn shit and get fucked?! Who doesn’t want power?”

The truth was that at the time he asked me I did not have the confidence or schema for being a sergeant, and though I have relayed how I acted boldly in some undergraduate and graduate classes, sometimes it was just a front to scare people away from me. In law school, in competition with people who were excellent thinkers, I felt that the brash strategy would not initially work, especially when I was so out of my league with the sly language and style of power. At Hastings Law School, everyone was brilliant because they believed they were.

I did not believe in the law. I did not understand it nor care to understand it because I was so very mistrustful of it. In the law there were tricks purposely meant to confuse lower economic class people and keep them ignorant and, more insidiously, scared and hopeless. Simply to have a single legal form submitted to the court could cost you thousands of dollars in attorney fees. You were not good, smart, or wealthy enough even to fill out the blank space designated for your own name, so you were supposed to hire a lawyer to do it. In fact filling out the welfare application form, something I had done for my mother since I was seven years old, was easier; I dealt with someone, a welfare worker, who was kind of like me. To speak to a suspicious lawyer or judge was to confess my utter stupidity and feel ashamed and angry. Varrio gente took that anger out not on the law, for they knew how futile that fight was, but they took it out on themselves and other innocent destitute victims until they were nothing but dry bones. The law, you always knew, was an unrepentant killer.

I did not really desire to be that type of killer, but for me there was no other choice. Plunged into perplexity, I had to brave wicked justice in order to learn privileged secrets. Later, during my second year at Hastings, did I learn through the landmark affirmative action case, Grutter v. Bollinger, that most House of Representatives members and U.S. Senators and many governors and presidents all have or had law degrees, especially from top tier prestigious universities. There was certainly a secret training in law school and a clandestine powerful language being learned, one that not even professional academics could combat. The new clergy, lawyers were the most powerful people on Earth.

Lawyers’ ideas actually action, move things, force someone to do something or shackle that someone in chains. There is no theory. There is simply right and wrong, and lawyers are the ones deciding what that means. No matter whether the client can understand the legal brief or justice’s opinion, one client is rewarded money while another loses his house; one client breathes life while another’s heart is forced to stop. Consider this lawyer invented (and now culturally entrenched) unprecedented American legal phenomenon: Time is punishment; all time can be taken from precious, healthy life for the furtherance of mass incarceration laws. These types of legal and judicial ideas in action draw the clear line of what is good and bad, even though most of the public do not even know how we get to good and bad. Most of the public simply accept it as the way it is supposed to be.

Ben with HOMEY SF at UC Hastings’ Day at Law School, 2013
HOMEY at Hastings

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.