Greetings, involvement-seeking readers!
Trouble in Black Paradise follows the trail to motivate “justice.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 8, the vigil for Amilcar Perez-Lopez amped it up. Usually held weekly from 6-7 p.m. at the Mission District Police Station – where his killers still work – this time we went directly to the home of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.
Feb. 26 will mark two years since Amilcar was murdered in the Mission District, right outside his residence. Locals know six shots cut him down, fired by undercover cops Craig Tiffe and Eric Riboli. Immensely problematic is the police report saying Amilcar lunged at them with a knife.
Locals here have seen autopsy reports clearly showing police falsified accounts. Medical reality illustrates what’s more in line with Walter Scott, killed in South Carolina by Officer Michael T. Slager: Amilcar was shot in the back – one bullet striking his head – while fleeing for his life, justified by cops playing the “fear card.” Slager in South Carolina was charged with murder and is awaiting a second trial.
Under coalition pressure, DA George Gascón finally said he’ll soon announce whether to charge Tiffe and Riboli with murder – but that was last year. So I joined frustrated advocates taking our spiritual plea – through “speak outs,” song and prayer – directly to Gascón’s neighborhood.
Feb. 26 will mark two years since Amilcar was murdered in the Mission District, right outside his residence. Locals know six shots cut him down, fired by undercover cops Craig Tiffe and Eric Riboli.
Our entourage arrived to a dark, rain swept hillside. Stately manors sat snuggly stacked – an eerily gracious welcome to all but abandoned high-end streets. Enduring clouds still sent balmy comfort, clamping a pause on wind force and patiently withholding testy showers. Then when a well rounded moon chanced to peek, her sky curtains shimmering “affirmation,” that chaperone glow lit something else casually waiting.
Half a dozen cops on mopeds sat lined up by our intersection, seemingly ignoring us – quietly in conversation. In this vacant, overwhelmingly lethargic scene it’s no coincidence. “Others” monitor these Justice Coalition’s social media sites – and here they are!
Construction worker Amilcar Perez-Lopez, 20, was murdered by plain clothes officers on Feb. 26, 2015, outside his Mission District home. The officers said he lunged at them with a knife, but two autopsies proved they shot him in the back.
All sped off single file in the opposite direction, passing an arriving police SUV that slowly cruised past us – toward where we headed – then vanished. We weren’t engaged and the air remained peaceful, calm – again, strangely “receiving.” We took it as that “glow’s” steeling affirmation, then carried on.
At last week’s vigil in deeper conversation with organizer Father Richard, he’d learned of my artistry facilitation and I agreed to share. Some readers know of and have sampled a taste of my historic interactive workshops – utilizing call-and-response, a cappella song, dance and poetry in the African tradition.
I led us in chant, a caravan piercing suburbia’s desert half a block up to Gascón’s house – “No Justice, No Peace!” paving our steps, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round!” as a melodic beacon lighting our resolve. Then a natural circle unfolded in fireside fashion on the sidewalk.
Candles lit and signs perched, everyone contributed to the hour-long moment in their own way; some silently reflecting and others speaking out. Dawn Noelle Smith Beutler evoked the spirit of universal prayer – this excursion’s heart – calling to combine whatever internal manner of “force” that might be contributed. Mark Scandrette was Amilcar’s neighbor and heard the six shots – as did others here.
Victim Alex Nieto’s relations and other coalitions sent their support. Nieto’s sister spoke saying this was actually her first attended “street vigil” – or rally – previously only testifying in legal settings. I peppered these greetings with chants where we could call victim’s individual names – declaring we’d tenaciously “bring them justice!”
I led us in chant, a caravan piercing suburbia’s desert half a block up to Gascón’s house – “No Justice, No Peace!” paving our steps, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round!” as a melodic beacon lighting our resolve.
Some spoke candidly of civic brutality targeting Black and Brown people; others revealed this was their own first attended street protest ever. And a treat: Frisco 5 activist and rapper artist Equipto gave us fiery perceptive input – then graced us with a poem.
Riding the idea that fresh ways-and-means must constantly be infused in our unified tactics, focus concentrated on this: our divine spirituality motivating “evolutionary magnificence” to blaze within DA Gascón – compelling him to file murder charges against cops Tiffe, Riboli and all others who’ve murdered unarmed citizens.
Amilcar came to San Francisco to earn money for his family in Guatemala. Since his murder, the family has struggled financially.
And we would be back!
As I led our caravan back to the intersection, changing, ”We shall not be moved!” we discovered a distant onlooker being prominently silent. Across the street sat that SUV cop cruiser, dark – but definitely occupied. And, sure enough, as we reached the corner, the moped brigade magically reappeared – resetting the formation where it had parked originally.
We slowly dispersed – a moonlit affirmation “glow” hanging on our brow.
Yes indeed, Gascón, we certainly would be back!
For information on Amilcar’s Vigil Group and how to help support his struggling family in Guatamala, click here.
Renaissance man describes the professional singer, actor, dancer, educator, historian, spiritual advocate and published author Adilifu Fundi, a 25-year resident San Franciscan and native of San Diego. Trained in cross-cultural and general social repair, Fundi spent the past 42 years utilizing lectures, workshops and performance in the social trenches, aiding the Black and general American mainstream gay and lesbian, gay people of color and Black LGBTQ segments with creating viable community. He can be reached at email@example.com. This story first appeared on his blog, Adilifu Fundi, Renaissance Man.