Peaceful march through SF draws attention to police shooting of Alejandro Nieto 

click to enlarge Alex Nieto
  • mike koozmin/the s.f. examiner
  • People march in protest of the police shooting death of Alex Nieto.
Clouds of incense encircled feathered dancers who led more than 100 people down Bernal Heights Park through the Mission district this afternoon as part of a march calling into question the events that lead to the shooting death of Alejandro Nieto, a 28-year-old San Francisco man killed by police in March.

Teams of motorcycle-riding police closed down streets to make way for the chanting crowd as it moved toward the Federal Building on Golden Gate Avenue downtown, where lawyers for the Nieto family planned to speak about the civil rights lawsuit they filed against the Police Department.

Nieto was shot to death March 21 after being asked to show his hands to officers who were responding to reports of a man with a gun in Bernal Heights Park, police said. Instead, police claim Nieto drew a stun gun that was mistaken for a real gun.

Lawyers for Nieto’s family say they have an unnamed witness who said police did not warn Nieto before shooting and he did not pull out a stun gun.

Today, the officers who monitored the San Francisco march were as calm and measured as the demonstrators themselves, making for a peaceful affair that was in stark contrast to protests this week in the Missouri town where an 18-year-old man was fatally shot by a police officer last weekend.

In Ferguson, Mo., several violent protests broke out in the ensuing days after Michael Brown was killed. Throughout the protests, police shot demonstrators with rubber bullets, fired tear gas into crowds and generally reacted to the civil actions with violence. Riots also broke out and nearly 200 people were arrested, most from other parts of Missouri.

Still, the marchers in San Francisco today referenced Brown’s killing by using what has become the defining chant of the Ferguson protests: “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

The crowd also chanted things like, “How do you spell murder, SFPD?” and, “We are all Alex Nieto.”

The names of the officers involved in Nieto’s killing have not been release because the Police Department said there is a credible threat of violence against them.

Lawyers for The City would not comment on the lawsuit.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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