Benjamin Bac Sierra, Bernal Heights, Buddhism, City College of San Francisco, CopWatch, cowboy cops, Dennis Bernstein, Flashpoints, gentrification, Justice4AlexNieto, KPFA, Mission District (San Francisco), Pacifica Radio Network, Phillip Burton Federal Building, racial profiling, racial residential segregation, San Francisco, San Francisco Bay Area, Sergeant Jason Sawyer (SFPD), transcript
LUMPENPROLETARIAT Some, such as Dr. Michel Chossudovsky, have argued that corruption, having reached saturation point, had now entered the age of inquisition, where the state openly kills in broad daylight, not by accident, but by design and with the intent to intimidate the general public and send a message of horror, to show the people what the state is now capable of doing.
JUSTICE FOR ALEX NIETO—[accessed 8 MAR 2016] Who was Alex Nieto?
Alex Nieto was born and raised in the Bernal Heights and Mission districts. He was a beloved son and brother, and an active peaceful member of the community. He was an accomplished:
- Full-time scholarship student at CCSF, earning a criminal justice degree and applying for transfer to a 4 year college program
- Full-time security guard at El Toro nightclub
- Provider for his family
- Practicing Buddhist pacifist
- Prior intern at the Youth Guidance Center’s Probation Department
- Member of the Mission Peace Collaborative
- Campaign volunteer in federal and local elections (Tom Ammiano, Bill Clinton, etc.)
- Volunteer at youth organizations (Coleman Advocates, HOMEY, etc.)
- Community event participant and organizer (Carnaval, poetry readings, etc)
Alex dreamt of helping guide youth in a positive direction, which is why he aspired to become a probation officer. He had a gigantic heart, and everyone loved him for his intellect, gentleness, and kindness.
Alex is survived by his loving parents and brother. [Learn more about the Nieto Family.]
SFPD MURDERED ALEX NIETO
On Friday evening, March 21, 2014, Alejandro “Alex” Nieto, 28 years old, was killed when he was struck by 14 to 15 bullets (of a total of 59 shots) fired by four San Francisco Police Department officers, on Bernal Hill Park, without justification. The officers who killed Alex Nieto are: Sgt. Jason Sawyer (then lieutenant), Officer Roger Morse, Officer Richard Schiff, and Officer Nathan Chew. (Read more about the 9 month struggle to obtain their names here.)
Alex was enjoying his dinner near a bench with a sunset view to Twin Peaks, dressed for his security guard shift with his licensed taser at his hip. He was also wearing his elegant new 49ers jacket, and minding his own business.
A dogwalker called 911 simply because he didn’t like the sight of this young Latino working class man on Bernal Heights. Police confronted Alex as he was walking downhill on his way out of the park, and killed him with two sequential volley of shots. The first volley took him down to the ground. The second volley of over ten shots killed him.
A KEY FACT: NO THREAT REPORTED
Alex Nieto posed no threat to anyone on Bernal Hill on the clear sunset evening. A witness told reporters: “…he wasn’t threatening to me. He seemed like a guy just eating a burrito.” [Source: ABCLocal; SFBG]
In the 911 Call (narrated by Chief Suhr at the Town Hall Meeting) and in dispatch audio, Alex is simply described as eating sunflower seeds or chips with his taser “at his hip”, never drawn. He is never described as threatening anyone.
All the same, a battalion of officers was sent to the hill to confront him.
A Bernal Heights native, Alex routinely ate dinner in Bernal Park, before going to his security guard shift. He had been with his parents before going out.
WHAT WE BELIEVE HAPPENED: A POLICE COVER-UP
Officers racially profiled Alex as a gangbanger exclusively based on his description as a Latino male wearing a red jacket. Racial profiling is illegal and a violation of civil rights.
Officers gave Alex no chance to respond to warning before they shot him to the ground with two or three shots. With Alex injured on the ground, officers decide—without any evidence of danger—to continue shooting at him, until he stopped moving. 59 bullets were fired.
This looks to us like an unjustifiable police murder —a deliberate execution— of an innocent man.
We also believe SFPD and the City and County of San Francisco are involved in a cover-up of an unlawful killing. We believe they fabricated a false narrative of events and have hid or tampered with evidence.
OPPOSING VERSION OF EVENTS:
WHAT CHIEF OF POLICE GREG SUHR SAYS HAPPENED*
WHAT FEDERAL CIVIL LAWSUIT SAYS HAPPENED**
|* [Source: Chief Suhr, Town Hall Meeting 3/25/2014.] [Listen to KQED audio of Town Hall Meeting.]||** [Source: Civil Federal Lawsuit filed 8/22/2014. Read Case Status & original filings.]|
EYEWITNESSES PRIOR TO SHOOTING
Ear and eye witness’ revelations say:
THE AUTOPSY REPORT:
Nearly six months after Alex was killed, the Medical Examiner released an autopsy report that deems his death a homicide. The autopsy confirms fourteen to fifteen bullet wounds (one entrance wound is for two shots, therefore, at least 15 shots hit Alex.) Eleven out of the fifteen shots caused downward trajectory wounds. That is, eleven shots are fired from above Alex into his face, temple, chest, shoulders, and back. Seven of those shots are in a head to toe downward trajectory indicating that Alex was in a completely defenseless position when officers fatally wounded him. This could imply criminal intent and murder.
Please check our Diagram and Analysis of the Autopsy Report, for more information.
Audio from a home security camera reveals TWO initial shots fired (possibly a 3rd), followed by a 6 second pause. Then a continuous volley of at least 10 shots. (We now know that there was a total of 48 bullets fired at Alex.)
The pause between the first and second series of shots is relevant because officers made a deliberate decision to barrage Alex with the shots that actually killed him. This could imply criminal intent and murder.
Learn more at JUSTICE FOR ALEX NIETO.
[Partial transcript by Messina for Lumpenproletariat and Flashpoints] 
FLASHPOINTS—[7 MAR 2016] Today, on Flashpoints, we update you in the federal civil trial of the murder of Alex Nieto by San Francisco police. Also, an update on Haiti with [Flashpoints] senior producer Kevin Pina. And, later, we’ll hear from a Canadian writer and activist on Canadian general Roméo [Antonius] Dallaire and his prominence in Canadian national mythology. My name is Mike Biggs, in for Dennis Bernstein. All this, straight on Flashpoints. Stay tuned. (c. 1:00) [brief music break]
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “In Berkeley, I’m Dennis Bernstein. You’re listening to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio
“We turn our attention back to the police murder of Alex Nieto. There is a federal trial taking place, right now, in San Francisco. This is an incredibly important case, in which the police shot down—one more time—shot down somebody, who—I guess—they just felt like killing a person of colour.
“Joining us to talk about this situation is a spokesperson for the Justice4AlexNieto; his name is Ben Bac Sierra. And he joins us from San Francisco. It was a busy day in court. And, I wanna hear all about that.
“But first of all, for people who don’t really understand what happened here, please set the scene. (c. 01:42)
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “I will. Thank you for inviting me to talk, Dennis. Alex Nieto was a security guard, a City College of San Francisco student, a beloved son, community activist.
“He was a security guard who was going to work on Friday, March 21st of the year 2014. He had bought a burrito and some chips. And he was eating it at a very peaceful, beautiful place to enjoy the view called Bernal Heights, which was only one block away from his house.
“And, so, he had gone up there to relax, to meditate, to eat before what was, probably, going to be a pretty busy night at the nightclub where he worked as a security guard. He was already dressed for work. He was wearing black pants, his work boots. And he also had his licensed Taser holstered at his hip.
“Now, the people who called the police on him do not even claim that Alex Nieto ever even looked at them. But they called the police anyway because they thought Alex had a gun on his hip.
“And the police come in a military, tactical fashion, very aggressive. And why did they come in such an aggressive fashion? Well, even though Alex Nieto has done nothing wrong, they get over the radio a description that he is a Latino male, six-foot tall, wearing a red jacket. And, with that description, they immediately profile Alex Nieto as a gang member, even though Alex Nieto has never been arrested in his life. He has actually volunteered at the Juvenile Correctional Facility to help out youth. I knew him very well. He was a practicing Buddhist.
“He had no idea anybody had called the police on him. He walks down the hill. The police are approaching him in a very aggressive fashion. In fact, we now know, based on the testimony in court, that they think they are cowboy cops. They do not wait for any type of back up. They actually bypass other police officers, that are near them. And they go to kill whoever is on the hill that fateful, unfortunate night.
“They see Alex Nieto, a neutral witness claims, that Alex Nieto was casually walking. The officer, the lead person in charge that evening, Sergeant [Jason] Sawyer, he actually claims when he sees Alex Nieto, Alex Nieto was eating from a bag of chips, walking down a hill.
“Now, you figure it out. That, in no way, is any type of menacing figure, yet they jumped out of their car with their weapons drawn. And the witness states that they simply shouted, Stop!, once. Then, they immediately began firing. (c. 5:06)
“And the testimony today is even more specific about what happened. But that is the general story of what happened to Alex Nieto. It is: He was shot at 58, 59 times, struck at least 14 to 16 times. And numerous of those shots were while Alex Nieto was face down on the ground.
“And, so, this is a fight, that we’re fighting, that we’ve been fighting for approximately two years now. March 21st is coming up soon. March 21st, and that will be the two-year anniversary of his killing.
“We made it to federal court. And, so, this is a very rare event because we usually do not get this. They dismiss the case. Or they will settle out of court. And, in this case, we actually get to hear the evidence, present it.
“And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two days now in court. (c. 6:09)
“Yesterday, we had a rally with hundreds, if not a thousand, people in front of the federal court building in San Francisco.  And we did poetry. We did singing. We had Aztec danzantes, Buddhist chanting. And, so, this is a very beautiful, revolutionary moment. We look forward to all of the evidence coming out.
“But I do have an update for you about the evidence. But I’d like to ask you if you have any further questions.”
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “Yeah, well, let me come in here. And, before we get the latest breaking news, I think it’s very important for people listening outside of San Francisco—and we broadcast across the country—that they understand the context here. That there is an attack on the Mission District, this beautiful, historic Mission District, that is really a part of Central and Latin America, has played a very important role in the City. People love the Mission District.
“But, of course, now a certain kind of 1% and the people working for the 1% are moving in. So, there is a major battle going on, a major gentrification, all kinds of crazy fires, every kind of attempt to gentrify and get rid of the people who made the Mission what it is. You want to talk a little bit about that? The sort of, the social context.” (c. 7:41)
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “Dennis. Dennis, Alex Nieto was killed specifically because of gentrification.
“I did not fully explain the context of why somebody called the police. Alright? We have two new gentrifiers, new as a far as new to the neighborhood, who come into Bernal Heights. And Bernal Heights was a working class, blue-collar neighborhood, full of African-Americans, Latinos, working class whites, Filipinos, Samoans, multicultural, diverse.
“Alex Nieto had lived there his entire life. However, he was able to live there because of rent control. Now, unfortunately, what happened is, starting in the ’90s, that area began to become gentrified. And, not, it’s thought to be one of the most expensive places to live in the United States of America. Places where you could buy a house, back in the ’70s, for $35,000 are now—the same, exact piece of property, the wood hasn’t changed, right, it’s not made of gold now—those same houses are now worth $1.7 million dollars.
“And, so, these new people came into the neighborhood. And they see Alex Nieto. And they think of him as being out of place. And they end up calling the police because they have never had to have a security guard job. They don’t understand. What? A Latino with a red jacket and he has a gun on his hip? He’s not even facing them. He’s actually peacefully eating a burrito. But, supposedly, these people see him with his hand resting on his hip.
“And they, actually, they do not both see it. Only one of them sees this. And he tells his friend: Hey, did you see the guy with the gun? His partner tells him: No, I don’t see the guy. I didn’t see a guy with a gun. And the guy who supposedly saw the weapon first, he doesn’t even have the guts to call the police, himself. He tells his friend: Well, I saw a guy with a gun. You call the police.
“This is total gentrification, racial profiling, and, unfortunately, it was part of the reason why Alex Nieto was killed because he was profiled by the people who called the police. And he was also racially profiled by the police, who came and killed him.” (c. 10:20)
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “Let me also ask you to describe how the police treated the family of Alex Nieto.”
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “Oh, what a horrible story. A very horrible story, here, is that we what have is the police understanding immediately after they killed Alex Nieto, unjustifiably killed Alex Nieto. Because right after they killed him, they knew that this man did not have a hand gun. And they claimed that Alex Nieto—it seems like they were just concocting the story. And we’re proving this right now.
“But I will go over what the police narrative is. The police narrative is that this person, Alex Nieto, who has never been arrested in his life, who has less than two hours before he has to go to work, is walking down the hill. And, notice here, the police officer, himself, Officer Sawyer, said: He’s eating from a bag of chip. This person, he’s eating from a bag of chips.
“Now, think about that. When we think about a stereotypical person relaxing, we think about: Well, that person is a stiff. You’re on your couch, eating a bag of chips. This person is walking down the hill, eating from a bag of chips. There’s absolutely no reason to regard this person as a menace. And this person, eating from a bag of chips, would have the mind set to, then, know that two officers, who jump out of their vehicle and point their weapons at him is going to, then, throw his bag of chips on the floor, go into his holster, point a weapon at them, and, you know, with a Taser, that doesn’t even fire more than 15 feet—and they’re supposedly 100 feet away—and he’s gonna do this. Right?
“So, they immediately concocted this story. And this was all in the mainstream media. You have the police spokesperson saying: The person who was killed in Bernal Heights had a gun. They knew immediately that he did not have a gun. The knew he only had a Taser. And they knew immediately who he was. (c. 12:32)
“Yet, it took them 18 hours to, I guess, think about what they were gonna say. And try to find out as much dirt, as they could on Alex Nieto and try to go ahead and—18 hours later—go to the parents, and then begin to question the parents without an interpreter. The parents speak only Spanish. Without an interpreter, they go over there, start grilling them about Alex Nieto. And, about 45 minutes into this interview, these very humble, beautiful people, the father ends up asking them. He had invited them into the house already. They start rummaging through the house, without a warrant. And he asked them: Why are you here?” (c. 13:30)
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “The father asked the cops?”
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “Why are you here?
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “The father asked the cops.”
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “Yes. And it is only, then, that the police officers tell them. Well, we’re here because your son was killed by the police.”
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “Wow.”
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “And that is just horrific. There is absolutely no justification for that. But it leads to us. It leads us to understand the totality of these circumstances, which is cover up.”
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “That’s right.”
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “Cover up! Cover up.” (c. 14:03)
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “Alright. Let me jump in here because we’re running out of time.”
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “Yeah.”
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “We’re speaking with Ben Bac Sierra.”
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “M-hm.”
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “We’re talking about a federal civil trial, that’s taking place in San Francisco now on behalf of the late Alex Nieto, who was gunned down, brutally, by police, a Buddhist, somebody who was actually interested in law enforcement—”
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “Yes.”
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “—worked with young people, an upstanding member of the community, gunned down. Give just—we only have a few seconds left. But, what’s new in the—was it powerful in the courtroom?”
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “What we understood is all of the officers, for one, are professional testifiers, even the rookie, who was on the stand, at the beginning of today. He has claimed that he has testified already over 50 times. His father is a San Francisco Police Department officer. And this person is well-groomed on how to stay consistently accurate with concocted types of stories.
“Yet, we saw that the story is being broken down by excellent attorneys from the law offices of John Burris. Adante Pointer noted that, very important here, the rookie officer, who first started firing at Alex, claims that he first started firing at Alex because Alex Nieto was walking purposely down; and he made eye contact with Alex Nieto. He saw into his eyes and saw Alex was angry. And he also saw his forehead scrunching. Note, here, it was proven by the evidence today that Alex Nieto had sunglasses on! And that he had a baseball cap on! So, it would be impossible for him to have seen his forehead scrunching. (c. 15:54)
“These are all pieces of evidence, that will show the inconsistency and the illogic; and also I have to say the physical evidence will also prove that the police are–just. It’s impossible for us to believe their narrative.
“I invite you all, listening today, to follow on Justice4AlexNieto.org.
“You could also Google my name, Benjamn Bac Sierra. I am posting daily updates about the specifics of the testimony.”
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “Alright. Were gonna leave it right there. But Ben Bac Sierra, we’re gonna stay in touch with you. We appreciate the great work you’re doing. And we will remember and celebrate the life and times of Alex Nieto, how he died. And we will cover that moment when that justice comes.
“Thank you so much for being with us on Flashpoints.”
BENJAMIN BAC SIERRA: “Thank you, Dennis. Have a great night. Goodbye.”
DENNIS BERNSTEIN: “Bye bye, now.” (c. 16:52) [SNIP]
[SNIP] (c. 59:59)
Learn more at FLASHPOINTS.
[This transcript will be expanded, as time constraints allow. Contact us to help transcribe important free speech radio broadcasts.]
 RALLY! THE TRIAL: ALEX NIETO VERSUS THE SFPD, MARCH 1st, 2016
The rally was held on day one of the trial in front of the United States federal courthouse in San Francisco’s Civic Center at 450 Golden Gate Avenue. The federal court building is also known as the Phillip Burton Federal Building.
 Terrestrial radio transmission, 94.1 FM (KPFA, Berkeley, CA) with online simulcast and digital archiving: Flashpoints, hosted by Dennis Bernstein, for Monday, 7 MAR 2016, 17:00 PDT.
[8 MAR 2016]
[Last modified 16:45 PDT 10 MAR 2016]