Unless you are from the San Francisco Bay Area, you are probably not familiar with the name Alex Nieto.
You should be. The whole would should know this good man’s name.
On March 21st, 2014, four San Francisco Police Officers fired an astounding 59 shots at Alex while he peacefully ate his dinner outside waiting for his security guard shift to begin.
Alex was racially profiled. Wearing his brand new San Francisco 49ers jacket, you or I would’ve seen a handsome young brother enjoying a burrito on a park bench under the sunset. Someone else, seeing a Latino man in a red jacket with his licensed, work-required Taser strapped to his hip, assumed he was a threat. Police did as well. In spite of the fact that the 911 caller admitted that no active threat was taking place, police sent a battalion of officers to confront Alex – including Sgt. Jason Sawyer (then lieutenant), Officer Roger Morse, Officer Richard Schiff, and Officer Nathan Chew.
I have to pause right there and tell you more about Alex. He was a beautiful soul. He was also a:
- 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
Do you have a clearer picture of who was sitting on that bench eating dinner now? He was no thug, no criminal, no threat, no danger – just a good man eating dinner before work.
A witness described Alex: “He wasn’t threatening to me. He seemed like a guy just eating a burrito.”
Another witness described him “as eating sunflower seeds or chips with his taser at his hip, never drawn.”
Yet, Alex was soon confronted and killed by police in a hail of bullets. They’d later claim, of course, that they felt threatened. They always feel threatened.
And, as always, the officers were erroneously cleared of any wrongdoing. We’ve seen this all before.
Except now, something new has emerged that gives the family, friends, and advocates for Alex some hope that at least one officer, Roger Morse, will finally be held accountable in some way.
After the officers were cleared, Officer Roger Morse posted the following threat to the family and friends of Alex Nieto on Facebook:
“Smiling. How about burning down his house and taking his friend who pressed charges?”
This is how above the law officers think they are. You and I would know full well that if we posted such a thing, we’d be arrested for the threat.
Well, local citizens complained about the threat made by Officer Roger Morse and something unprecedented just happened:
The San Francisco Office of Citizens’ Complaints has NOW concluded the following about SFPD Officer ROGER MORSE:
The allegation of CONDUCT REFLECTING DISCREDIT ON THE DEPARTMENT against a police officer for behaving inappropriately or and making inappropriate comments is SUSTAINED. The matter will now be transmitted to the SFPD Chief of Police for review and ACTION.
This is good news, but it means nothing if it is not followed by ACTION.
The Chief of Police, Toney Chaplin, must fire Officer Roger Morse.
How in the hell can a man whose job it is to protect people post online that he wants to burn down the house of a victim of his own violence and Taser those who fought for justice for Alex?
This does not deserve a suspension. In truth, he should be arrested for the threat, but he absolutely must be fired.
Here are your actions for today:
1. Email Chief Toney Chaplin and let him know that he must act on this decision made by the San Francisco Office of Citizens’ Complaints and fire Officer Roger Morse immediately.
Write this email in your own words please. Give it your own title.
Email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
2. Call the Chief and let him know he must fire Officer Roger Morse. Call 415-837-7000. If you don’t get through, call every number here and let them know how you feel.
3. Last but not least, let’s get this trending on Twitter, ok? The whole world needs to know.
If you can, save the image we included in this email and post the following on Twitter:
Dear @SFPDChief – you must #FireMorse. OCC verified that he threatened to burn down the house of the family of #AlexNieto. Now you must act.
(Include the photo if you can and tag the @SFPD & @SFChronicle & @J4AlexNieto & @MayorEdLee)
If you cannot attach the photo, still post the tweet.