Demonstrators protest DA’s decision to exonerate officers in fatal police shooting

from April 12, 2017 at 02:37PM

Some 25 people took to the street in front of Mission Police Station on Wednesday night to protest the San Francisco District Attorney’s decision not to bring criminal charges against the two officers involved in the February, 2015 shooting of Amilcar Lopez Perez.

The decision was announced hours earlier and comes after more than two years of demonstrations and public scrutiny of the officer-involved shooting that anti-police brutality activists and some community members say was unjustified.

At 8:45 p.m., several protesters held up an 8-foot banner banner imprinted with the slain man’s image, using it to block off Valencia Street at 17th Street. Officers who had been redirecting traffic then told a reporter on site that their “time is up” and the officers began to retreat.

The protest’s organizers briefly contemplated moving the protest elsewhere, but decided to remain at Mission Station and as the demonstration continued,  so did traffic congestion at the intersection, and the officers returned by 9 p.m. to direct traffic.  Protesters could be heard chanting “indict, convict, send these killer cops to jail” and “stand with your community, end police impunity.”

“This city is for the struggle,” said one of the protesters.  Another said in reference to the District Attorney’s decision that the weekly vigils held in honor of the Perez Lopez for the past year in front of the station are likely over.

“We now are in a new phase of our struggle,” said Father Richard Smith of St. John’s Episcopal Church, who organized the vigils and spearheaded a movement calling for police accountability in the shooting. Just what they would be doing in the future was unclear.

Several passersby stopped to check in with the protesters amid the honking of passing cars – their drivers raising their fists in the air in a show of support. Others passed by the intersection in silence.

By 9:10 p.m., the group of protesters had dwindled down to about a dozen people. Those who remained locked arms and formed a human chain along a crosswalk at the intersection – in unison, the group began reciting the names of civilians who have died at the hands of law enforcement.

This is a developing story. We will update as more information comes in.

Some two dozen people gathered on the street in front of Mission Police Station to protest decision in the police shooting of Amilcar Perez Lopez. Photo by Laura Wenus

Photo by Laura Wenus

Read more at: MissionLocal

Homeless encampments are being removed but homeless remain

from January 12, 2017 at 10:16AM

Editor’s Note: This article is a project of San Francisco State University’s Latina/Latino Journalism class taught by Katynka Martinez.

Edwin Mus, a 49-year-old man originally from Guatemala, has been homeless on the streets of San Francisco for about six years. He and his dog ‘Cabezon’ live in the area around 16th and Mission streets. Photo: Marisol Cabrera

“There’s not enough room for everybody,” said 49-year-old Edwin Mus, who is known by his fellow homeless neighbors as “El Vampiro.”

Mus, originally from Guatemala, is a homeless man who has lived in the Mission for over eight years, and has been homeless six of them.

Mus used to have a family and a job, but after being stopped for a DUI and unable to pay for his $8,000 bail, he was jailed. His money and personal troubles led his wife to leave him.

He eventually found a loyal companion in his dog “Cabezon,” whom he met while dog sitting trying to earn money for food. They’ve been together since. But finding a shelter has proved difficult due to overcrowding and shelter regulations that prohibit animals from entering. Mus would rather sleep on the street than leave his dog for a warm bed.

“I can’t be without the dog. He’s the only thing I have,” said Mus. “He is the only one that makes my life happy. He is attached to me and I am attached to him too.”

Edwin Mus, a 49-year-old man originally from Guatemala, has been homeless on the streets of San Francisco for about six years. He and his dog ‘Cabezon’ live in the area around 16th and Mission streets. Photo: Marisol Cabrera

The San Francisco Point-in-Time Homeless Count has noted that despite efforts to solve the homeless problem, the city’s general homeless population actually rose slightly between 2005 (6,248) and 2015 (6,686). And in San Francisco, immigrants and people of color who are homeless have less access to housing and shelters.

Section 214 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1980 states that only certain categories of noncitizens are eligible for benefits under the housing programs. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) also states that undocumented people, unless they are “qualified aliens,” are not eligible for federal public benefits. Immigrants have faced extreme marginalization with laws that prohibit their eligibility for housing programs.

PRWORA coined the term “qualified alien” to differentiate noncitizens, who can receive federal public benefits from those who are prohibited.

The director of Homeless Services at the Mission Neighborhood Health Center, Laura Guzman, has been an advocate for immigrant homeless in San Francisco for more than a decade. Guzman has served as chair of the only shelter that offers housing for Spanish-speaking immigrants with limited access to shelters or subsidized housing from other organizations.

She says recent San Francisco propositions “Q” (which made tents on city sidewalks illegal) and “R” (which failed, but would’ve created an SFPD Neighborhood Crime Unit to respond to “quality of life” crimes, including homelessness)  only meet the needs of the wealthy in the city, and ultimately won’t resolve the city’s homeless problem.

“The neighbors that are pushing for some of these initiatives are the very people that will not allow you to build housing or shelter,” Guzman said.   

There are about 900 people currently living in encampments for whom there are no shelter beds according to Guzman.

Mus explained how he and a couple of his friends came to live in a tent in the Mission this year near 15th street, and how police forced them out of their tent.

“They came in at around 5:30 in the morning and threw everything [out],” Mus said. “They took everything from us. They threw all our dishes and clothes to the trash. That hurt me the most.”

Paul Boden, executive director of Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP), argues that the system of laws encompassing homeless immigrants and minorities are structured to criminalize people that fit both categories. He agrees that the system cannot resolve homelessness through the removal of tents.

Boden thinks these laws are designed to make residents believe that over time, homelessness will no longer be a problem because they aren’t able to see it anymore.

“You can’t have a discussion around homelessness without talking about racism, criminalization, [and] class,” said Boden. “This is that liberal pretense that ‘neoliberalism’ promotes so much. It’s: ‘We’re going to make the person you see today disappear and once that person has disappeared you’re [the community] going to figure we fixed the problem.’”

WRAP’s report “Without Housing,” which Boden presented, found that the department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) budget authority was cut by 77 percent from 1978 to 1983. Since 1983, there has been a significant increase in laws criminalizing homelessness in California. The main “offenses” that homeless people are being targeted for are sleeping, sitting or lying down and loitering.

Despite his difficulties, Mus continues to search for ways in which he can provide a better life for himself and for his companion dog.

“I’m fighting to move ahead. I’m always working anywhere,” Mus said. “Thank god right now I’m not missing much, only a roof over my head for the cold nights.”

Read more at: News – El Tecolote

Woman Handcuffed And Held Down By BART Police Suffers Miscarriage

from December 22, 2016 at 01:23AM
Woman Handcuffed And Held Down By BART Police Suffers Miscarriage
This stemmed from a widely covered incident in July in which an African American couple was detained with great force by BART police after exiting a train at Embarcadero Station, following an alleged incident of racism aboard the train. [ more › ]

Read more at: SFist

Academy Of Art, Longtime Zoning Scofflaw, Agrees To $60 Million Settlement With SF

from December 19, 2016 at 03:43AM
Academy Of Art, Longtime Zoning Scofflaw, Agrees To $60 Million Settlement With SF
"Academy of Art University and its real estate affiliates behaved for more than a decade like they were above the law," said Dennis Herrera, but "those days are over." [ more › ]

Read more at: SFist

Mothers and Supporters of 43 Disappeared Students March in SF’s Mission

from November 5, 2016 at 06:27AM

A caravan of mothers and supporters of the 43 missing Mexican students marched down Mission Street today to bring awareness to the situation in Mexico.

A forum will be held after the march (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.) at Buena Vista Horace Mann Elementary School at 3351 23rd St. near Valencia.

Juaquina Garcia Valasquez, the mother of 20-year-old Martín Getsemancy Sanchez García, said she had been on the three-week caravan from Mexico  “so that everyone knows what is happening in Mexico.”  The caravan started in Boston and will end soon in San Diego.

Her son was one of dozens of students who were taken off a bus in Mexico and disappeared.

The Washington Post reported in October about the recent arrest of a police chief in the case and wrote succinctly about the night the students disappeared:

The students from a teaching college in Ayotzinapa, more than 150 miles away from Iguala, were last seen alive Sept. 26, 2014, when they were crammed into police cars. They traveled to Iguala that day to protest education reforms. At some point they hijacked a bus and were stopped by police officers who opened fire at them. They have not been seen or heard from since. READ MORE

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

The New York Times wrote about the investigation into the events leading up the disappearance of the students.

“They all felt confusion, terror and helplessness,” wrote the panel, five lawyers and human rights experts from around Latin America.

At one point, the police made a group of students who were hiding in the third bus disembark and lie on the ground. About 10:50 p.m., they were taken away in six or seven patrol cars. They are among the 43 students who disappeared.  READ MORE

Photo by Lola M. Chavez

Photo by Lola M. Chavez


Read more at: MissionLocal